Watching the halftime show this past Sunday, I tried to figure out what was being played live and what was tracked. It appeared to me that while the vocals were live, almost everything else seemed to be a little too perfect. And then there was lack of microphones, cables and wireless transmitters for all the instruments.
Turns out I was right. There was fakery going on with the instrumentation.
And I don’t really have a problem with this. A performance like this in from of 100 million people is incredibly complex. Consider:
1. The entire stage area has to be set up in a matter of minutes.
2. There’s no time for a soundcheck beyond the last rehearsal, which might have been days earlier.
3. Audio needs to be mixed for both TV and the stadium itself. Plus you need a monitor mix for the performers. Doing all that on the fly is next to impossible, especially since the addition of tens of thousands of bodies into a stadium changes its acoustic properties.
4. It was cold. Instruments can wobble out of tune in seconds.
5. You have one shot to get it right for the entire planet.
If that means tracking the instrumentation, so be it. If I were Bruno Mars and the Chili Peppers, I would have insisted on the same thing. “Just keep the vocals live,” I’d say.
Flea has reacted to criticisms that he didn’t appear to be actually playing anything. His response: “Yep. We faked it. But here’s why.”