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Beyonce electrifies at Super Bowl Stevie Wonder headlines concert

If naysayers still doubted Beyonce’s singing talents – even after her national anthem performance last week at a press conference – the singer proved she is an exceptional performer at the Super Bowl halftime show. Beyonce opened and closed her set belting songs, and in between she danced hard and heavy – and better than most contemporary pop stars. She set a serious tone as she emerged onstage in all black, singing lines from her R&B hit “Love on Top.” The stage was dark as fire and lights burst from the sides. Then she went into her hit “Crazy In Love,” bringing some feminine spirit to the Superdome as she and her background dancers did the singer’s signature booty-shaking dance.

Beyonce ripped off part of her shirt and skirt. She even blew a kiss. She was ready to rock, and she did so like a pro. Her confidence – and voice – grew as she worked the stage with and without her Destiny’s Child band mates during her 13-minute set, which comes days after she admitted she sang to a pre-recorded track at President Barack Obama’s inauguration less than two weeks ago.


Beyonce proved not only that she can sing, but that she can also entertain on a stage as big as the Super Bowl’s. The 31-year-old was far better than Madonna, who sang to a backing track last year, and miles ahead of the Black Eyed Peas’ disastrous set in 2011. Beyonce was best when she finished her set with “Halo.” She asked the crowd to put their hands toward her as she sang the slow groove on bended knee – and that’s when the performance hit its high note. “Thank you for this moment,” she told the crowd. “God bless y’all.”

Her background singers helped out as Beyonce danced around the stage throughout most of her performance. There was a backing track to help fill in when Beyonce wasn’t singing – and there were long stretches when she let it play as she performed elaborate dance moves.

Stage
She had a swarm of background dancers and band members spread throughout the stage, along with videotaped images of herself dancing that may have unintentionally played on the live-or-taped question. And the crowd got bigger when she was joined by her Destiny’s Child band mates.
Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams popped up from below the stage to sing “Bootylicious.” They were in similar outfits, singing and dancing closely as they harmonized. But Rowland and Williams were barely heard when the group sang “Independent Woman,” as their voices faded into the background.
They also joined in for some of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” where Beyonce’s voice grew stronger. That song featured Beyonce’s skilled choreography, as did “End of Time” and “Baby Boy,” which also showcased Beyonce’s all-female band, balancing out the testosterone levels on the football field.


Before the game, Alicia Keys performed a lounge-y, piano-tinged version of the national anthem that her publicist assured was live. The Grammy-winning singer played the piano as she sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in a long red dress with her eyes shut.
She followed Jennifer Hudson, who sang “America the Beautiful” with the 26-member Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus. It was an emotional performance that had some players on the sideline on the verge of tears. Hudson also sang live, her publicist said.
The students wore green ribbons on their shirts in honor of the 20 first-graders and six adults who were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage at the school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The students began the song softly before Hudson, whose mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew were shot to death five years ago, jumped in with her gospel-flavored vocals. She stood still in black and white as the students moved to the left and right, singing background.

Version
Keys’ version was soft and featured additional lyrics: She added “living in the home” before belting “home of the brave” as she finished the song. The students wore green ribbons on their shirts in honor of the 20 first-graders and six adults who were killed in a Dec 14 shooting rampage at the school in Newton, Connecticut. Keys and Hudson warmed up the field for Beyonce, who is set to perform at the half-time show. Applause and approval greeted Stevie Wonder as thousands stood for hours to hear his pre-Super Bowl concert that also featured guitarist Gary Clark Jr. Escorted on stage late Saturday by his daughter and backup singer Aisha Morris, Wonder performed several of his hits, including his opening song, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” That was followed by “Master Blaster,” Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and Wonder’s own “Higher Ground.”

The 62-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member headlined the outdoor event held near the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel on the eve of Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
Thousands packed a tent set up on a parking lot across the street from the hotel to hear Wonder, Clark, R&B artist Janelle Monae and DJ Martin Solveig.
One of the most anticipated musical moments of the year so far happened in New Orleans and was connected to the Super Bowl – but it had nothing to do with Beyonce. (AP)

Instead, it was another superstar, Justin Timberlake, who had the town buzzing as he gave his first performance in nearly five years – a sizzling, hour-long concert that featured the nattily dressed entertainer with a more than 10-piece band and guest appearances by Timbaland and Jay-Z, who’s prominently featured on Timberlake’s comeback single, “Suit and Tie.”
Timberlake hadn’t released new music in years, preferring to concentrate on a blossoming acting career that included star turns in movies such as “Friends With Benefits” and the Oscar-nominated “The Social Network.”

But when Timberlake took to the stage on Saturday night for DirecTV’s Super Bowl-eve bash, it seemed as if he had never left. Timberlake, dressed in a black tux, betrayed no nerves or rust as he appeared with the backing band dubbed “JT & the Tennessee Kids” and dove into the night’s first song, “Like I Love You,” his signature falsetto in top form.
There was a bit of irony in the setting of Timberlake’s comeback concert because he is identified with the most infamous Super Bowl performance of them all, 2004’s wardrobe malfunction featuring Janet Jackson. He spoke a little about Sunday’s big game as he baited Baltimore Ravens fans against San Francisco 49ers followers.

Other than that, he had little else to say, letting his music do all the talking. For the most part, his musical statement consisted of a rundown of his greatest hits, including “Senorita,” ‘’Cry Me A River,” ‘’Summer Love” and “My Love” (the latter of which included a verse of Jay-Z and Kanye’s “... In Paris”).
But he did offer at least two new songs that seemed as if they could have been inspired by his recent marriage to actress Jessica Biel. Both were slow jams: One was called “Push Your Love Girl,” while another had the refrain: “I’m in love with that girl ... don’t be mad at me.”
Timberlake also drew from others’ music, performing a cover of INXS’ “What You Need” and delivering a spot-on rendition of the Jacksons’ “Shake Your Body Down To the Ground,” complete with the Jacksons’ trademark choreography.

The standing-room crowd – which included Paul McCartney, Sofia Vergara, John Legend and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft – was dancing most of the night, and by the time Jay-Z came on to deliver his verse for “Suit and Tie,” the party was in full throttle.
Timberlake ended the evening with “SexyBack,” bringing his sexy – and more importantly his music – back for the public to enjoy.
Timberlake’s comeback will reach an even larger audience next Sunday with his performance on the Grammys. His third album, “The 20/20 Experience,” is out next month. (AP)

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