TAMPA, Fla. – One was a 12-minute party, the other a 2-minute proclamation.
Bruce Springsteen and Jennifer Hudson used the Super Bowl stage for two very different performances Sunday night: He proved he’s still The Boss with an electric halftime show, while Hudson showed she’s ready to return to the spotlight after the slayings of three family members.
Springsteen and his E Street Band had turned down numerous invitations to play the halftime show, declining the high-profile time slot because it was a bit beneath them.
Then the show slowly started to draw legitimate acts – U2, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, to name a few – and Springsteen changed his view of performing in the middle of a football game.
He promised a 12-minute party, and more than delivered by charming the estimated 100 million television viewers with his opening line: “I want you to put the chicken fingers down and turn your television all the way up.”
Springsteen then threw himself into his four-song set, a highly anticipated series of songs that had Las Vegas oddsmakers taking bets on which tunes he’d select. He opened with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” and worked in one of his trademark across-the-stage knee slides.
The move wasn’t without risk: He slid into one of the on-stage cameras, and seemed to be winded when he transitioned into “Born to Run.”
Next up was his newest piece, “Working on a Dream,” which was backed by a choir. He then closed out with a playful version of “Glory Days” that fittingly altered the lyrics to fit the occasion: Springsteen’s old high school buddy was “a big football player” instead of “baseball,” and threw a “Hail Mary” instead of a “speed ball.”
It was a completely different energy than the one offered two hours earlier by Hudson, who made her first public appearance since the October slayings in Chicago of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. Her estranged brother-in-law has been charged in the killings.
The 27-year-old singer/actress looked apprehensive and took a deep breath before launching into the anthem. Hudson, who clocked in at 2 minutes, 13 seconds, looked relieved when she was through.
“This was such an important performance, because it’s the first time everyone has seen Jennifer,” pre-game show producer Rickey Minor said.
Although entertainers can perform live, Minor insisted Hudson and Faith Hill, who sang “America the Beautiful” before the national anthem, use the tracks the NFL requires them to submit a week before the game.
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