This article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Feb. 5, 2007 from Super Bowl XLI when the Chicago Bears played the Indianapolis Colts.
Prince has long touted his relationship with his divine one, and the diminutive rock-funk icon must've called in a favor Sunday. How else to explain the perfect, dramatic backdrop for Prince's Super Bowl halftime performance, one that, for once, justified the existence of a mini-concert sandwiched between halves of football.
With the rain falling in diagonal sheets, the pyrotechnics flashing like lightning and camera-lens water spots adding a psychedelic touch, Prince presented a spectacle that actually required a football field. He, his band (whom the jittery cameras never took the time to show) plus dancers were introduced amid fireworks to the martial stomp of Queen's "We Will Rock You" before taking their places on an oversize version of the singer's trademark male-female glyph and launched into the ever-popular "Let's Go Crazy."
This predictable opener brought to mind the boilerplate sets of the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney over the past two Super Bowls, but Prince, in a turquoise suit and black do-rag, had more ambitious ideas. This was a set for the mash-up age, with Prince sliding into Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" and later working in verses of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" (a slow blues take a la Jimi Hendrix) and the Foo Fighters' "Best of You."
Prince also replaced the tinny synths of his '80s recordings with the Florida A&M University Marching 100, which beefed up the sound while tickling the eyes with their glow-in-the-dark stripes. The energy was frenetic -- and, yes, we got the requisite shots of grinning fans jumping around on the field -- but the whole choreographed thing felt spontaneous while serving as an apt refutation of the lip-sync age.
The abbreviated "Purple Rain" finale may have been inevitable, but if you're going to play the song, you may as well do so when it's pouring. As Prince indulged in some guitar heroics as his silhouette was projected onto a billowing sheet, you had to admit: The dude's got flair.