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The Super Bowl Halftime Show 2021: The Weeknd Stops Here

I haven’t seen the Weeknd on stage since my fifth viewing, a headlining gig at at the Prudential in  2017 (here), and after seeing him so many times, it came as no surprise that the  performance last night, in the middle of a boring bowl even though I was happy to be a Tom Brady fan for once, was an over extended snooze. All the fiddlers in the world, and dancers in red jackets and white bandages, couldn’t save it.

Neither could a stellar setlist:

Starboy
The Hills
Can’t Feel My Face
I Feel It Coming
Save Your Tears
Earned It
House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls
Blinding Lights

Yes, it is one smasherino after another, the second track his first all out mood and dream masterpiece “The Hills,” was a flawless and yet simultaneously indifferent take on his finest moment, so was the drug enhanced “I Can’t Feel My Face”. A similar problem occurs with the biggest single in over a year, “Blinding Lights” modern soul, which ended the performance on the most blinding of high spots, and still failed to ignite the 22,500 audience members and the world of twitter. Abel just can’t do it on stage, he comes across solitary and moody, apart from everything that was going around him, and a static figure who… can’t dance.

The Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan blasted come together on “The Star Spangled Banner,” was excellent (the first duo in ten years), the pre-pre game Tik Tok presented Miley Cyrus concert finds her in the modern age, performing classic rock pop, and even featuring guest star slot Billy Idol (and Steve Stevens) on “Night Crawling” and “White Wedding”. The 28 year old Miley performed an ace set.

But best of all? H.E.R. singing “America, The Beautiful” with just an electric guitar. Gaby (AKA H. E.R.) was phenomenal, just like she was opening for Chris Brown two years ago (here), and Abel shoulda checked her out, this is what I wrote about her opening slot for Chris Brown: “Her 45 minute set was consistently enthralling, with a DJ, drums, and a Pro Tool behind her, Gabi’s voice was a thing of beauty and power and she seemed completely comfortable on stage. At this stage of her career, just two years in, everything is a highlight and was treated as such but especially when soulman Daniel Caesar joined her for the gorgeous soft stroke of “Best Part” (still Gabi’s biggest hit and a smash when they performed it together at the BET Awards), and the only one hit but it is killa Ella Mai performed “Boo’d Up” -one of the best r&b tracks of the year. H.E.R. is a mellow with an arty edge and just right in this time and place… “Focus” absolutely killed.”

H.E.R. had what The Weeknd can’t seem to break through on, a passion for the music that shines through the glitz to the light at the End Of the tunnel… and Tom Brady became a legend… again…

Grade: C

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