The American Airlines Arena was at capacity Friday night with just about every single person already on their feet by the time Bruno Mars opened with Moonshine, one of his many hormonally charged love songs. Mars then insisted, over the squeals of his legion of young female fans, “Everyone, get up on your feet, we’re here to dance!”
Mars and his old school inspired musicians soulfully grooved in synch, with sexually charged hip grinding a la The King (Elvis being an early influence of Mars), and the get down and dirty of The Ike and Tina Turner Review, as well as some tight MJ inspired subtleties. Old school meets edgy, provocative, albeit it borderline sexually explicit saved by the melody of the sweet, modern-day pop. Whether 15 or 50, Mars touched the inner animal instinct of all, welcome to the Moonshine Jungle Tour.
With everyone on their feet, Mars spotted a few fans still sitting and commented, “What are you doing sitting? Get yo ass up!” He possessed a unique humbleness and affability which allowed him to connect with each and every audience member. With his huge infectious smile as well somewhat sad, emotional eyes, he roamed from one corner of the stage to the other, and seemed to acknowledge everyone with eye to eye contact, including those in the bad seats. Mars also engaged his boys of the band to join him in taunting audience members with their sensuality and banter which included a well orchestrated comical performance of them singling out a girl on the front row as the target of their pick up lines and hip swaying moves. In Marry You the audience sang as loud as Mars, which left one wondering, how many men were inspired to spontaneously drop to one knee? Mars, careful not to isolate anyone from his sexually charged lyrics sweetly quipped, “Ladies, if you don’t have that special someone, WE GOT YOU!”
The stage breamed with extraordinary talented musicians which included Bruno Mars’ backup singer, Phillip Lawrence, the brass players: sax, trumpet and trombone, strings: guitar and bass, and including Mar’s own brother on drum kit. Besides the fact that they are brilliantly tight musicians, they all moved and sang back up with the similar swag of the O’Jays, including well placed finger snaps. Even Mars is a well rounded musician, playing electric and acoustic guitars as well as a drum solo with a jungle beat that brought down the house. Mars’ vocals moved easily from velvety soulfulness to rhythmic funk to sweet falsetto leading his willing and wanting audience anywhere he wanted with skillful confidence. However confident, prior to singing, When I Was Your Man, Mars unapologetically notified his audience that it is the hardest song for him to sing, in fact, he had to stop twice, his face conveniently hidden from camera by the wide brim of his Panama hat. Being that it is a love song about regrets, many will assume his momentary emotional expression was about a past broken heart, but Mars, having lost his mother only two months ago, suddenly and at an early age, one has to wonder if his tears were for her.
The showmanship was left all on the stage by Mars and his bandmates that one hardly noticed the wide screen of images sweeping behind the stage, until the encore of Gorilla, with it’s dramatic images and staging of hard hitting booms including a firestorm that seemed appropriated for the hard-core, sexed up lyrics leaving the audience completely spent as well as panting for more.