The Super Bowl isn’t simply about football. It’s about 100 million people buying into the dream, hoping that this uniquely American moment — a festival of corporate branding, organized violence and pure showbiz — can somehow save them, lift them from life for a while — from debt, fear and heartbreak.
On Sunday, they sought refuge in their living rooms, tapping into the pageantry in hi-def. And in the face of economic ruin, they still flocked to Tampa, Florida, by the thousands — some shelling out close to $2,000 for nosebleeds, others with shorter pockets content simply to bask in the shadow of the stadium, but all grasping at the dream.
Enter Bruce Springsteen.
He made good on his promise of a “12-minute party” Sunday night, lifting millions who sorely needed it. His opening act was a Super Bowl record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by the Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison, but Springsteen had some hard hits of his own on deck. He hit the stage, playfully demanding, “I want you to put your chicken fingers down and turn the television all the way up. (Check out photos of Springsteen’s Super Bowl set.)
“Is there anybody alive out there?” he shouted as he and the E Street Band dove into the rollicking “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” More than 70,000 who had been jeering, heckling and cajoling each other for hours were dancing, suddenly all revelers at Bruce’s party. He pushed the pedal closer to the floor with “Born To Run,” and raised the roof higher (with help from a backing choir) with the title track from his latest album, “Working on a Dream.” Finally, at last call, he brought out “Glory Days,” tweaking the lyrics and dropping in game-appropriate gridiron references. As the band brought it home, guitarist Steven Van Zandt quipped that they were beyond overtime, beyond penalty time and into “boss time.”
And in a flash of pyro, it was over. Man-made mesas of steel were wheeled away and a cast of hundreds scurried out of sight, returning the performance space to a playing field in a matter of minutes. “Boss time” was over and game time resumed (and damn, what a game), but for those of you who actually had money riding on it, that set was:
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”
“Born To Run”
“Working on a Dream”
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