Lady Gaga — all red (gown and eye glitter), blond (the hair, of course) and blue (finger nails)  — won cheers and plaudits for a sturdy, dignified rendition of the National Anthem to lead off Super Bowl 50. A ferocious first half that included four quarterback sacks for Carolina closed out with the Broncos leading the Panthers 13-7. That set the stage for some serious halftime relief. It was delivered with a tip of the hats to past, present and future by Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce, accompanied by a riot of swirling flowers, what seemed like a million kids and a youth orchestra and chorus.

Chris Martin and Coldplay launched with a medley beginning with “Viva la Vida” and “Yellow” — a stark contrast to the fireworks, explosions and volume that typically identifies the Super Bowl shows as they’ve grown in technical proficiency while decreasing in human scale over the years. The rainbow of dancing flowers soon gave way to black-and-bling as Bruno Mars and a leather-clad chorus singing “Uptown Funk” revised the spectrum as well as the rhythm.

635904746851019275-USP-NFL--Super-Bowl-50-Carolina-Panthers-vs-Denver.6They were soon set off by Beyonce, hair wild and flying, and her femme crew, starting with “Formation” with fireworks, shooting flames and one scary moment when Beyonce seemed about to lose her balance. All was good as the show turned into a conversation or battle of the bands, depending on your point of view, with the Men of Mars.

Eventually (within the 7-minute span of the event), Coldplay joined as the giant screens filled with a poignant crash course on past Halftmers, from James Brown, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston to Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, all framed by a crowd that roared its approval. The future part of the gig, with all those fresh-faced kids — they seemed to be in endless supply — ramped up the energy. It may have been middle-of-the-road and the sound was probably better in the stadium than on the TV, but it was awfully satisfying.