Once a music act has done the Super Bowl half-time show then you know they bring it…big. Janet Jackson, Katy Perry, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Beyonce. These are all major performers who know how to hold your attention. When Bruno Mars did his Super Bowl show he really showed the world he has to be considered to be part of this group. His live shows are big, hot, energetic, and filled with tight group choreography.
This was the first of his two near sell-out shows at the Bell Centre. Mars and his 8-member backing band, The Hooligans, took the stage dressed in matching, but everyone wearing a different colour, baseball jerseys and trackpants. Mars had a red jersey on with a matching red snapback. The loud applause and high energy that greeted them never really subsided for the entire 90 minute set. In terms of production values that was also big. With a large cube of a stage with multi-coloured lighting all around it, a big screen along the back, lasers, pyrotechnics, gold confetti, and even some very loud firecrackers, there was plenty to look at. Unfortunately, as is the case with many large scale shows at the Bell Centre, the sound (in the upper levels, anyways) was rather muffled. The instruments were turned up way too loud and Mars’ microphone was too low not allowing me to hear his voice on many an occasion.
From the beginning Bruno Mars has been an artist who has pulled from old school R&B sounds to build his music upon. The entire show was an ode to the past from the sound to the use of horns to the choreography. You can see that the man takes his cues from performers like Michael Jackson, Prince (with his impressive guitar playing) and James Brown. Like those performers he had them dancing in the aisles all night long. When I was able to hear them, his vocals were strong and appealing.
The set was largely made up by the songs from his latest album, 24K Magic with sprinklings of his older hits thrown in for good measure. A nice mix of up tempo and slower more romantic songs, the set had some nice variety.
Canada is Bruno Mars’ 20th country visited on his 24K Magic World Tour and he manages to keep it fresh night after night. Hard to do when you are performing the same show for six months. His energy level was good proving the guy has the stamina of his musical forefather, James Brown.
Admittedly, I did not see the opening act. When I heard it was going to be a DJ instead of the performers who have been opening up for him throughout the tour like Anderson Paak, Camila Cabello (formerly of Fifth Harmony) or Dua Lipa I was less than interested, so only arrived shortly before Mars took the stage at 9:30.
15. Locked Out of Heaven
16. Uptown Funk