Take your hat off to Mars

Take your hat off to Mars

Review: Concert


Singapore Indoor Stadium/Wednesday

American soul-pop wunderkind Bruno Mars can write hit songs, has pitch- perfect singing, nifty dance moves and can play a mean guitar. But his gig here revealed another of the Grammy winner's skill - the uncanny ability to keep his hat on throughout a high-octane show.

The pale hat never fell off his head even as he wiggled and danced his way through the 90-minute gig.

His first concert here was highly anticipated - the venue was packed, with most of the 11,000 tickets snapped up soon after they went on sale late last year.

He certainly did not disappoint the boisterous, mostly young adult fans, whose screams at times drowned out the music and his singing.

All the popular tunes culled from his two albums, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) and Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), were on the setlist, including chart-toppers such as Just The Way You Are and Grenade, which were greeted with much enthusiasm from the crowd.

The show was anything but subtle. A giant LED screen served as the backdrop, playing everything from videos of jungle scenes and animal life (in keeping with the show's Moonshine Jungle theme) to blown-up close-ups of Mars and his band on stage, while hyper-active laser lights throbbed in sync with the music.

Giant sparklers, loud explosions and a rain of confetti would go off during the more dramatic parts of the songs, as a giant disco ball spun and cast its starry reflections all over.

Mars had the backing of an exceptionally talented bunch of eight sidemen, including his older brother, Eric Hernandez, on drums.

Whether they were playing their instruments - ranging from guitar and bass to brass horns and keyboards - or singing backing melodies, all of them were extremely agile and practically bouncing all over the stage.

Watching them back Mars in campy, synchronised dance moves was fun and there was a sizzling chemistry between them onstage.

The setlist proved what a master he was at channelling classic pop tricks from yesteryear. Encore tune Locked Out Of Heaven, preceded by Mars doing a drum solo a la his recent Super Bowl performance, sounded like a tune from rock pioneers The Police, while Treasure became a big 1970s- style disco sing-along.

From the grandiose pop of concert closer Gorilla to piano ballad When I Was Your Man, Mars draws his musical inspiration from 1960s Motown, 1970s funk and 1990s R&B.

He also threw in a few medleys that included covers which clearly show his influences. These ranged from 1960s R&B classic Money (That's What I Want) and Toots & the Maytals' reggae tune Bam Bam to more recent steamy R&B jams such as Ginuwine's Pony and R. Kelly's Ignition.

He might not be the most original artist, but the man is undoubtedly adept at appropriating the best bits of past music to put on an entertaining show.

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