EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A lot of Super Bowl spectacle each year has nothing to do with football, and Super Bowl XLVIII was no different.
After the Seattle Seahawks left for the locker room with a 22-0 score well on their way to a rout of the Denver Broncos and their first Super Bowl title, hundreds of people made their way to the field to set up for Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Within minutes, the crowd lit up with LED lights (shining from customized beanies handed out to more than 80,000 in attendance) and dozens of black-clad performers trotted out to the field with sparkling lights atop square panels.
The LEDs constantly changed colors, creating seamless aerial designs for spectators.
As the lasers and spotlights geared up, the 12th Man made themselves heard.
“Sea-HAWKS! Sea-HAWKS!” echoed through MetLife Stadium as if the Legion of Boom were taking the stage.
Mars kicked things off with “Locked Out Of Heaven,” getting things off to an upbeat start. Word art and strobes flashed as Mars rattled off several popular hits, including “Treasure.”
Soon the lyrics “Give it away, give it away, give it away now” started to crescendo through the speakers, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage with Mars.
The atmosphere briefly shifted from dance-club to rock-show, as the shirtless rockers came out and performed the familiar hit alongside the pop star, before Mars brought it home with a simple rendition of one of his debut singles, “Just The Way You Are.”
He sang from a small blue stage at the center of the field following a tribute to soldiers and their families.
After the game, fans Craig Taylor and Carmen Robinson were overwhelmed by the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win, and said the entertaining halftime show was an added perk.
The Seattle couple, who got engaged at a Seahawks game a year ago, loved the visuals.
“I loved all the lights,” Robinson said. “The fireworks were the best.”
Before the game, marching bands from Syracuse and Rutgers universities completed formations side by side, covering the field in orange and red.
Soulful sounds and classical music set the patriotic tone before kickoff.
Queen Latifah, a returning Super Bowl act, performed “America the Beautiful” before opera star Renée Fleming sang the National Anthem.
It was the first time the NFL incorporated opera into the Super Bowl entertainment lineup.
At a press conference last week, Fleming applauded the league for bringing her genre of music into the mix and “doing something different.”
And the crowd responded well to the new direction.
The crowd erupted in applause several times throughout the song.
“I’ve never heard it sung any better,” Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck remarked after the performance.
Outside the stadium, The Band Perry and Phillip Phillips warmed up fans before they took their seats at the Pregame Tailgate.
Not that they needed any warming up. Despite all the concerns about weather, the temperature hovered around 50 degrees most of the day.
Elsewhere on the outskirts of the stadium, the nearby Izod Center Arena held more performances by The Fray, Cindy Lauper and Doug Flutie.