“I can’t hear,” protested Bella Harper, 7, a vision of cuteness in her pink snowsuit and blue cap as she perched atop the shoulders of her Grandpa George.
They’d been on Nicollet Mall since 2:30 p.m. Friday waiting to hear Idina Menzel, the voice of “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” a movie Bella has seen too many times to count.
“We should rush the stage like I used to do in the ’70s,” George Harper III joked.
They were trying to be patient during the delayed start of Super Bowl Live, a 10-day series of free concerts on Nicollet Mall. First, they had to sit through welcoming speeches from the mayor of Minneapolis and music curators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the national anthem sung by ex-Viking Esera Tuaolo, and then several songs by the VocalEssence choir, including a long medley of tunes associated with Minnesotans, including the Hamm’s beer theme, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Closing Time.”
Menzel finally hit the stage on what seemed like diva time — 65 minutes after the scheduled start. The Broadway star in the puffy parka and dark stocking cap roared through “Let It Go” in less than 4 minutes. Thankfully, the speakers were finally working.
Bella sang along with every word, belting out the song to the delight of people packed around her.
Standing next to Bella by the back of the stage was a smiling Tim Torgerson of Andover, a fan of Menzel’s Broadway roles in “Wicked” and “If/Then.”
“This was enjoyable,” he said. “I couldn’t see her, but it was worth it. I’m not going to stick around much longer.”
Even though his back and shoulders were sore, Harper was beaming. “It was worth every minute to hear my granddaughter sing along.”
Said Bella: “Can we go to Target now?”
The Harpers first had to make their way through a packed crowd on the mall. Harper, of Minnetonka, was surprised that considering that the “Frozen” star was the night’s big attraction, the crowd was short on young girls. “The crowd is older,” he said.
And confused. At first, it was hard to tell where the front of the stage was. And because the mall felt more teeming than the State Fair on a record-setting day, movement was slow and slower. Cynthia Johnson, who appeared after Menzel, frantically tried to weave through the throng with one of her people shouting “Got to get to the stage.”
Johnson delivered “Funkytown,” the 1980 smash by Lipps Inc. on which she sang lead vocals. She was accompanied by her pre-“Funkytown” band, Flyte Tyme, featuring Jam, Lewis and others.
Kendrick Smetana and Lisa Swanson of Eagan came specifically to see Flyte Tyme because they’d gone to high school with some members. The band was onstage for one tune, for less than 10 minutes. Four more Minnesota bands — from the country genre — were scheduled to follow.
“It’s always good to support our friends on their shining moment,” Smetana said. “But this setup is crazy.”