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Springsteen delivers during four-song halftime performance

TAMPA, Fla. -- Bruce Springsteen proved he's still "The Boss" with an electric halftime show at Super Bowl XLIII.

Springsteen, dressed all in black, came out Sunday night with the considerable challenge of packing the bombastic energy of one of his rollicking, three-hour concerts into an abbreviated Super Bowl halftime set.

He promised a 12-minute party and more than delivered by charming the estimated 100 million television viewers with his opening line: "I want you to put the chicken fingers down and turn your television all the way up."

Springsteen then threw himself into his four-song set, a highly anticipated series of songs that had Las Vegas oddsmakers taking bets on which tunes he'd select. He opened with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" and worked in one of his trademark across-the-stage knee slides.

Next up was his newest piece, "Working on a Dream," which was backed by a choir. He then closed out with a playful version of "Glory Days" that fittingly altered the lyrics to fit the occasion: Springsteen's old high school buddy was "a big football player" instead of "baseball," and threw a "Hail Mary" instead of a "speed ball."

Springsteen and guitarist Steven Van Zandt then toyed with the crowd as the show came to an end, looking at their watches as the clock wound down. Worried they were about to hit "penalty time," (a referee even raced out and threw a yellow flag), they closed it out right on time.

"I'm going to Disneyland!" Springsteen shouted at the end.

There were fireworks, an expansive stage, about 1,000 people on the field and help from a Raymond James Stadium crowd equipped with small flashlights.

A five-piece horn section helped saxophonist Clarence Clemons blast out "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and a gospel choir came on stage to back Springsteen, his wife and bandmate, Patti Scialfa, and Van Zandt during "Working on a Dream," the title song from the rocker's 24th album.

The move wasn't without risk: Springsteen slid into one of the on-stage cameras and seemed to be winded when he transitioned into "Born to Run."

Springsteen is riding a new wave of exposure and popularity, playing for President Barack Obama in Washington before the inauguration, releasing his album this week and winning a Golden Globe award for his song from the Mickey Rourke movie, "The Wrestler."

Springsteen and his E Street Band had turned down numerous invitations to play the halftime show, declining the high-profile time slot because it was a bit beneath them. Then the show slowly started to draw legitimate acts -- U2, The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, to name a few -- and Springsteen changed his view of performing in the middle of a football game.

In 1988, Chubby Checker was the first popular musician to perform at halftime, and Michael Jackson raised the bar in 1993.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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