Maroon 5 has taken the stage to perform the halftime show at Super Bowl LIII, despite calls to stand down in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
Adam Levine opened the performance in a black jacket singing Harder to Breathe, before letting loose with hit song This Love and ending the show with a shirtless performance of Moves Like Jagger followed by fireworks.
Travis Scott then joined the band with a tribute to the late SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg before dominating the stage with his performance of Sicko Mode.
Rapper Big Boi of the hit-hop duo OutKast was the third artist to perform, lighting up the stadium with the classic The Way You Move.
Maroon 5 is performing the half-time show at SuperBowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
Meanwhile, the former 49ers quarterback hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2016 following his decision to kneel during the National Anthem in protest against police brutality and racial inequality.
Levine defended the band’s decision to perform at the game and hinted the gig will include a social message in solidarity with Kaepernick.
‘I’m not in the right profession if I can’t handle a little bit of controversy. It is what it is, we expected it,’ Levine said in an interview on Thursday with Entertainment Tonight, three days ahead of the big game in Atlanta.
‘We’d like to move on with it, and like I said earlier, speak through the music,’ Levine said of the band’s plans for Sunday’s championship game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
Maroon 5 came under scrutiny when a petition signed by more than 113,000 fans demanded that they withdraw from performing at the Super Bowl to support Kaepernick and other players who kneel during the national anthem.
The singer delivered a reassuring message to Kaepernick’s supporters, saying: ‘They will be [heard] – that’s all I want to say because I don’t want to spoil anything.’
‘To make people understand, we got you,’ he said. ‘We got you.’
It followed the surprising word that Maroon 5 would not participate in a pre-game press conference on Wednesday as is traditional – though Levine insisted in the interview that the NFL had canceled the press conference, and would not comment further.
Levine said that he had done deep soul searching before accepting the halftime gig, which other artists, including Rihanna and Pink, had reportedly turned down in solidarity with Kaepernick.
ET’s Kevin Frazier asked Levine whether the controversy had affected how the band will approach the performance.
Levine replied: ‘I could say yes and no, because honestly I think that being in a band and being an artist and publicly appearing and performing, you have to take into account all of the things that are surrounding you, so in that way it’s no different from any other concert.’
Going into halftime, the Patriots took a 3-0 lead thanks to a 41-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski in the second quarter.