In this day and age, you’d be hard-pressed to find any popular solo artist who has the versatility of Bruno Mars. If Justin Timberlake is the odds-on favorite leading male vocalist, Mars is the dark horse. His rise to stardom has at times been both slow and inconsistent — but after his Super Bowl performance back in February, I think it’s safe to say he’s earned his fame.
Back to the concept of versatility, Bruno Mars brings so many levels to his performances that it’s hard not to be impressed. With his full entourage of Hooligans behind him, Mars shifts fluidly from reggae (“Show Me”) to disco (“Treasure”) to rock/pop (“Locked Out of Heaven”) to Motown (“Money – That’s What I Want”) to ballads (“When I Was Your Man”). The guy can rock out on the guitar and the drums, he can dance like a mixture of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, and he has an uncanny ability to appeal to all ages, all nationalities, and both men and women.
Bruno Mars stands as a breath of fresh air in today’s musical world that depends more heavily on lights, dancing, and countless theatrics than on vocals and musicality. The ultimate showman, Mars was somehow able to make this past Saturday’s concert at the Xcel Energy Center in front of a sold out crowd of more than 15,000 fans feel like an intimate gathering.
I’ll admit, when I first got to the Xcel, I was a little disappointed by the size of the stage. I’ve been to several concerts at both the Xcel and Target Center before, and in most cases the stage has stretched out into the center floor. I feel like this helps the audience feel like the performer is really there with them, coming out to be in the middle of the crowd. As it turned out, Bruno didn’t need a stage of that size to connect with the crowd. He let his music speak for itself.
One of the best parts of the performance was watching how in tune Bruno is with his band. In all reality, the Hooligans should probably share the headline with Mars on this tour and every one following it. The Hooligans are a perfect side dish to the Bruno Mars entrée. They played a wide array of instruments, they danced while playing them, and they provided a lot of comic relief throughout the performance that the audience greatly appreciated. I think this is part of what helps Bruno appeal to the older generation as well: he always performs with trumpets, saxophones, and trombones behind him, which takes people back to the days when music featured a full band and a variety of sounds.
In all, the Moonshine Jungle Tour was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. Bruno Mars is a true performer and a lot of fun to watch. The only disappointment I had during the show was that he neglected to perform “Young Girls,” which is the newest single off his album Unorthodox Jukebox. While not my favorite song of his, (that would be “Moonshine”), I didn’t understand why he failed to include it in his set list. Regardless, Mars shined during the songs he did perform, and I hope he schedules another trip to Minnesota soon.
Photos via: Google