TAMPA, Fla. — Bruce Springsteen looked into the camera Sunday night and told the people watching at home to “put the chicken fingers down and turn the television all the way up!”
Then he proceeded to give the Super Bowl crowd and the millions watching on TV three high-energy Boss standards, with the title song from his new album wedged in among them for good measure.
The 59-year-old Springsteen and his E Street Band opened with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” then without pause ripped through “Born To Run” and “Working on a Dream,” before winding up the set with “Glory Days.”
Springsteen, dressed all in black, came out Sunday night with the considerable challenge of packing the bombastic energy of one of his rollicking, three-hour concerts into an abbreviated Super Bowl halftime set.
That turned out to be no problem. He had fireworks, an expansive stage, about 1,000 people on the field and help from a Raymond James Stadium crowd equipped with small flashlights.
A five-piece horn section helped saxophonist Clarence Clemons blast out “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” and a gospel choir came on stage to back Springsteen, his wife and bandmate, Patti Scialfa, and guitarist Steven Van Zandt during “Working on a Dream,” the title song from his 24th album.
Springsteen is riding a new wave of exposure and popularity, playing for President Barack Obama in Washington before the inauguration, releasing his 24th album this week and winning a Golden Globe award for his song from the Mickey Rourke movie “The Wrestler.”
In 1988, Chubby Checker was the first popular musician to perform at halftime, and Michael Jackson raised the bar in 1993. His sister Janet provided the show’s most infamous moment with 2004’s “wardrobe malfunction.”