You’ll have to forgive Tampa if it’s a bit giddy this week. The Bay town is playing host to a week-long carnival of music, beer and (eventually) football that will draw Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Fall Out Boy, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and hundreds of thousands of fans.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals are rumored to be here as well.
Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday will mark the culmination of a week’s worth of late-night parties and afternoon celebrity powderpuff games. Red carpets will sprawl, champagne will be popped and many stages will be rocked. (The first big show went down last night: Fall Out Boy and Rihanna pumped up fans at the Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Bash.) Holding court on the grandest of them all, of course, will be Bruce Springsteen, flanked by his E Street Band for Sunday’s halftime extravaganza (expected to be viewed by close to 100 million). It’s fairly light work for a man who just played Washington’s Lincoln Memorial to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration.
“It was a good warm up,” Springsteen told reporters on Thursday. “You’ll have a lot of crazy football fans, but you won’t have Lincoln staring over your shoulder.”
While the inaugural performance was born of Bruce’s activism, Sunday’s showcase grew from more practical thoughts. “We have our mercenary reasons,” Springsteen said, alluding to his new album, Working on a Dream, which hit stores on Tuesday. “Besides our love of football, blah blah blah.”
Further joking about his low football IQ, Springsteen admitted, “When I hear Steelers, I think Terry Bradshaw,” the four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback who played his last game for the team 26 years ago.
The NFL had been courting Springsteen and the E Street Band for years, but Bruce told reporters that the timing never felt right. “This is the year,” he said. “I really believe our band is going through a golden age.”
So what will the rejuvenated E Street Band offer at halftime on Sunday? Fans and oddmakers have been speculating about the set list, but Springsteen would only promise “a 12-minute party.” He also reminded everyone exactly who would be calling the shots.
“Who decides? The boss decides,” Springsteen joked.
Follow our ongoing Super Bowl weekend coverage, and check out the best from our archives in Rolling Stone’s Super Bowl hub.
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