The news that Coldplay would be helming the Half at Super Bowl 50 left many fans scratching their heads in puzzlement: Although an undeniably massive act, the British band’s somewhat dreamy style seemed an odd fit for, well, an American event centered around a lot of partying and ruckus.
Perhaps that’s why the NFL made the decision to bring back two of their best crowd-stirrers, Beyoncé (who handled the halftime show in 2013) and Bruno Mars (2014) for a little halftime reunion of sorts.
Still, the juxtaposition of these two against Chris Martin & Co. read mentally rather like the opening moments of last year’s Bowl, when the New England Patriots ran out to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” while the Seattle Seahawks ambled on to the field to the dulcet strains of the Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
Despite this, there remained the hope among music fans that perhaps the band might be able to surprise the Northern California crowd with a touchdown of sorts. Who doesn’t love a quarterback sack by the underdog?
Alas, it was not to be. As the game’s second quarter closed with Denver leading Carolina by 6, Chris Martin started things off enthusiastically, running across Levi’s Stadium to take the stage with opener “Viva La Vida.” However, he was working immediately with a handicap: The stage, lit up with colorful effects, was unfortunately not put to full effect as the West Coast sun had not yet entirely gone down.
Still, the band muscled through a few numbers in the glare, with the audience gamely bouncing along. The pace picked up abruptly when Bruno Mars broke into the set without warning, immediately raising the energy level with a frenetic delivery of “Uptown Funk.” And the fun and games just continued from there: Queen Bey strutted onto the field with a troupe of bodysuit-clad backup dancers to interject her latest single “Formation,” culminating in a crazed dance-off with Mars on stage.
Both Mars and Beyoncé were completely un-dependent on special effects, lighting, or the usual tricks employed in a stadium performance, making both of their appearances successful. However, the party came to an unexpected halt when Martin joined on stage and belted out a few stanzas with the dynamic pair; a combination about as appealing as raw kale dumped on top of pepperoni pizza.
The tempo again took a jarring turn as Martin gamely returned to center stage and performed a version of his band’s “Up and Up” juxtaposed with U2’s hit “Beautiful Day.” This particular number was backdropped by footage of past halftime performances over the decades, with the result being confusing rather than touching.
Indeed, the sun didn’t entirely go down until the actual game resumed. A heavenly message to the NFL? One can only wonder. Regardless, this halftime show definitely was a cold play.