On Sunday, Canadian pop star The Weeknd lit up a pandemic-restricted Super Bowl with an upbeat performance of hits evoking the theme of his newest song, After Hours, in front of a brightly lit cityscape.
The 30-year-old actor climbed out of a glossy sedan perched high above the stage at halftime at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, amid flashing signs reminiscent of the Las Vegas Strip at night.
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The Weeknd opened on the stage with the song Starboy in front of a chorus in white robes and masks with lit-up eyes, followed by The Hills, clad in a red blazer covered in sequins, black trousers and black-and-white wingtip trainers.
He disappeared into a gold-mirrored labyrinth for Can’t See My Face and eschewed similarly dressed dancers sporting the full-face bandages that the singer himself had worn as part of his performance art in previous public appearances.
The Weeknd ended the 13-minute performance with his breakout single Flashing Lights, a song that mentions “Sin City,” a Las Vegas nickname, after other hits, including Won It and Save Your Tears. Amid the rows of his bandaged dancers, he played the song on the floor.
A global tour in 2022 was announced by The Weeknd, who launched his recording career in 2010 and received three Grammy Awards. Abel Tesfaye is his first name.
The Super Bowl is known as the premiere showcase of the music industry and has hosted top artists such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Prince and the Rolling Stones.
The Weeknd performed to a US television audience this year, which is predicted to exceed about 100 million. But for the NFL title game, the stadium itself was more than half vacant.
To avoid the transmission of the coronavirus, the National Football League reduced in-person attendance to 25,000 persons, replacing other seats with 30,000 spectator cutouts of cardboard.
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Singer-songwriter H.E.R. sang America the Beautiful while playing an acoustic guitar before kickoff, and country musician Eric Church and R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan joined as fireworks boomed overhead for a duet of the U.S. national anthem.
Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who wowed crowds last month at the inauguration of President Joe Biden, delivered a pre-recorded poem about three pandemic heroes: a teacher, an intensive care nurse, and a veteran of the Navy.
Let’s stroll with these fighters,” she said, “keep on with these champions. “Whilst we honour them today, it is they who honour us every day.”