It’s hard to believe that it was only three years ago when Bruno Mars burst onto the scene as the featured vocalist on B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ On You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.” Since then, he’s produced two full length albums stuffed with hits and become one of the most consistently impressive live performance acts around. Rightly thought of by many as the natural successor to Michael Jackson’s “King of Pop” throne, the 27-year-old Mars proved to Orlando audiences last night that he is here to stay with his thoroughly entertaining Moonshine Jungle Tour.
“There’s a special place in my heart for old school,” Mars told the capacity crowd, and that fondness for retro is not only evident in his music, but in his amazing onstage band as well. Costumed as a doo wop group, the brass and sax players who take the stage with Mars are as much a part of the show as he is, adding choreographed movement to their musical talents. “Treasure,” from the recent Unorthodox Jukebox, found Mars and company recreating the feel of the Soul Train era, replete with a set of video screens which looked like they came straight out of the 70s.
In stark contrast to the big production numbers were the ballads, showing off his amazing vocal range and his impressive control over the audience. Women were not only swooning but singing along loudly to “When I Was Your Man,” and his first huge hit, “Just The Way You Are.”
Mars, who exudes immense charm and also has a natural flair for acting (remember his hosting duties on Saturday Night Live?), had lots of fun with the audience as he broke down the rules for female seduction with his hilarious R&B 101, pulling one unsuspecting but lucky lady from the audience (who just happened to be our 102 JAMZ front row winner), in on his game.
Closing the show with his latest single, “Gorilla,” the blasts of flame may not have been much of a surprise to those who caught the same performance Sunday night on the MTV Video Music Awards (where Mars walked away with the Best Male Video award for “Locked Out Of Heaven” and demonstrated a form of showmanship unmatched by the other performers) but they were thrilling nonetheless, giving the concert a raucous closing, yet still allowing Mars’ amazing vocals to shine.
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