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Bruno Mars: Concert Review

Bruno Mars
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Bruno Mars

As the ladies swooned, the singer delivered his stable of hits to a packed house at the Gibson Amphitheater.

Bruno Mars is having a good week.

Taking the Gibson Amphitheater stage on Tuesday night with a smile on his face and a kick in his step, the versatile pop-soul crooner relished in the apex of his success: the Grammy-winning single “Just the Way You Are,” had just been named the longest-reigning debut in Billboard history on Monday, after spending its 20th week at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts, and he was playing to a packed house for a second sold out night in one of America's most saturated entertainment markets. In short, Bruno Mars had made it -- big time.

You could call it a hometown show -- although Mars was born in Hawaii, he moved to L.A. after high school and considers the city his adopted home. It certainly felt that way as the crowd, a mix of young and old, guy and girl and one American Idol alum Adam Lambert, quelled any doubt as to who they had paid to see on the Hooligans Wondaland tour, which included openers Mayer Hawthorne and Janelle Monae. Indeed, they never sat during Mars's time onstage.  

Another constant of Mars hour-long set? The piercing screams of the ladies, who proved that Bruno Mars’ brand of love songs have hit their intended mark. And he knows it. The singer often baited the shrieking crowd, teasing at one point that he wanted to take off his shirt, but wouldn’t because he didn’t have "Usher’s body." 

All jokes aside, and he always seems to have plenty up his sleeve, the crooner’s casual and comfortable stage presence was reflected in both his outfit (his signature Fedora was paired with a plaid flannel-turned-vest layered over a tee shirt and jeans) and a bare-bones stage set up. Moveable screens projected different images and lights, but the main focus was on the singer and his band, which included a drummer, two guitars, keyboards, a trumpet section and backup singer Phillip Lawrence, who's also a member of Mars’ production team The Smeezingtons).

When it came to crowd pleasers, Mars obliged with mega-hits from his platinum-selling Doo-Wops & Hooligans album, including “Just The Way You Are,” during which Mars implored the men in the audience to give their ladies a little extra special attention, “The Lazy Song,” and “Grenade,” noting that the latter was his favorite on the album. He also sang the hooks to many of his popular collaborations including Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire,” which was preceded by a contemporary rendition of Barrett Strong’s “Money” and B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You.” A potential fourth single for Mars? His ode to buddy-dom, the ridiculously catchy "Count On Me."

After returning to the stage for one encore, a mash up of  “Somewhere in Brooklyn” (which he changed to L.A.) and “Talking to the Moon," the house lights came on and Mars’ masses filtered out into the cool L.A. night. Outside of the short running time for a ticket costing as much as $90, all looked more than satisfied. Even the guys who did nothing more than accompany their girls to the concert couldn't complain when it became clear that Bruno Mars had put all parties in the mood for love. Good night, indeed. 

SET LIST:

  1. The Other Side
  2. Top of the World
  3. Money (That’s What I Want)/ Billionaire
  4. Our First Time
  5. Runaway Baby
  6. You Belong to Me
  7. Marry You
  8. Lazy Song
  9. Count on Me
  10. Liquore Store Blues
  11. Nothin’ on You
  12. Grenade
  13. Just the Way You Are

Encore: Somewhere in Brooklyn/Talking to the Moon