One Boss halftime show


Bruce Springsteen performs today at the Super Bowl.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Published: Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 6:12 p.m.

For years, Bruce Springsteen has been asked to play the Super Bowl halftime show.

And now that he and the E Street Band are taking their fuel-injected sound and steppin' out over the line - the 50-yard line, that is - what can today's estimated audience of 150 million expect from the New Jersey Bard and band?

At a Thursday press conference in Tampa - Springsteen's first such conference in 22 years - the singer likened the compact extravaganza to busting in to catch the last 12 minutes of one of his three-hour shows after a buildup of excruciating expectation.

Or, in other words, as the climactic essence of an approach that's captivated millions of concertgoers for more than 35 years.

"We want it to be a 12-minute party," Springsteen said before some 700 media types jammed in a room with photographers lining the walls.

"The idea of the show is, you are going to the Meadowlands, you get lost on the way, you are watching your clock: 'Damn, the show is starting right now.' You stop at a bar to get some directions, and the bar gets held up while you are there. So that takes another 45 minutes to get out of there," he said.

"You come back and you miss your exit on the turnpike, and you are driving to get back around. And so you make it into the stadium 2 hours and 48 minutes into the show - that's what you are going to see: the last 12 minutes."

Just what those 12 minutes will contain has been the speculation of countless blogs, chat-room exchanges and even offshore betting sites like Antigua's bodoglife.com, where odds on "Born To Run" were 5-1 to open the show, while "Born in the USA" and "Glory Days" were each 2-1 favorites, the Las Vegas Sun reported Thursday.

Following his press conference at the Tampa Convention Center on Thursday, Springsteen and the band did a full dress rehearsal of the show at Raymond James Stadium and practiced their chops for what will be the single, largest-watched performance of their live careers.

Rock critic Dave Marsh, who has written four books on the Boss and attended Thursday's dress rehearsal, described it Friday as "unique and special" in a live broadcast from Tampa on E Street Radio, the all-Springsteen channel on Sirius XM satellite radio.

"Whether you watch the game or not, or care about football or not, you must see the halftime performance," Marsh said.

"Don't miss this show. It's something truly unique and special for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

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