Whether or not it stars Al Hirt, Michael Jackson or Beyoncé, the Tremendous Bowl halftime present has all the time taken heart stage on the sphere.
However for the primary time within the 55-year historical past of the sport, the Weeknd, who’s headlining this Sunday in Tampa, Fla., will carry out on a stage arrange within the stands in line with strict coronavirus protocols meant to restrict contact with the gamers and coaches; his act might, nonetheless, embody a short interlude on the sphere.
In a typical 12 months, a large stage is rolled onto the sphere and tons of of followers pour out to encompass it; this 12 months solely about 1,050 persons are anticipated to work to placed on the present, in contrast with 2,000 to three,000 most years. Performers and crew members will obtain Covid-19 assessments earlier than rehearsals and earlier than the efficiency.
When he strode to the microphone Thursday at a information convention, the Weeknd took within the room and famous, “It’s type of empty.” His phrases had been maybe a preview of how the stadium would possibly look to individuals watching from dwelling. (About 25,000 followers will probably be within the stadium — lower than half its 65,000-person capability — joined by 1000’s of two-dimensional cardboard cutouts of followers supplied by the N.F.L.)
The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), is a 30-year-old Canadian pop star recognized for hits together with “Can’t Really feel My Face” and “Starboy.” His live shows typically have a brooding really feel and a darkish, avant-garde edge. (The music video for his newest hit, “Blinding Lights,” opens with the Weeknd laughing maniacally, his face lined in blood.) He stated that his halftime present would incorporate a few of his trademark inventive themes however that he plans to be “respectful to the viewers at dwelling.”
“The story will proceed,” he stated, “however undoubtedly we’ll maintain it PG for the households.”
This would be the second Tremendous Bowl halftime present produced partly by Jay-Z and his leisure firm, Roc Nation, who had been recruited by the N.F.L. in 2019. On the time, performers had been refusing to work with the league, in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the previous San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started kneeling throughout the nationwide anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
The pandemic has been a selected hurdle for reside performances of every kind, and plenty of have needed to resort to pretaping some parts and different strategies to make sure the protection of performers and viewers members. The halftime present manufacturing workforce, nonetheless, was intent on a reside efficiency within the stadium.
“Whereas this can be a problem, it has additionally created a tremendous alternative to placed on a reside halftime present that’s distinctive,” Jesse Collins, an govt producer of the present, stated on the information convention.
After a 12 months that has been crammed with tragedy and upheaval, the performances on the Tremendous Bowl will undoubtedly embody notes of seriousness. A televised pregame present that includes Miley Cyrus will probably be carried out for an viewers of greater than 7,000 vaccinated well being care employees, and Amanda Gorman, the poet who acquired rave critiques for “The Hill We Climb,” which she learn at President Biden’s inauguration, will recite one other authentic poem, this one a few instructor, a veteran and a well being care employee. The R&B performer H.E.R. will sing “America the Stunning,” whereas the nationwide anthem will probably be a duet by Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan.
It’s unclear whether or not this 12 months’s halftime present could have the identical big-budget, high-tech air of earlier years, which regularly featured dozens of elaborately costumed backup dancers and such memorable moments as a flying Woman Gaga and Katy Perry driving an animatronic lion. The Weeknd appears to wish to sustain the custom: He stated that he deliberate to spend $7 million of his personal cash to boost the efficiency.
He stated his private favourite Tremendous Bowl halftime present efficiency was by Diana Ross in 1996. He stated that he significantly admired her flashy exit in a helicopter, which rose up by means of the packed stadium with the diva waving to followers by means of the open door.
“I want I might have achieved that,” he joked. “I don’t assume I find the money for to do it, to be trustworthy.”