Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Bruno Mars puts on smooth, sexy show at Tampa Bay Times Forum

Bruno Mars, shown here at a concert in Philadelphia in June, had energy to spare during Wednesday night’s sold-out show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Photographs were not allowed at the Times Forum show.

Getty Images

Bruno Mars, shown here at a concert in Philadelphia in June, had energy to spare during Wednesday night’s sold-out show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Photographs were not allowed at the Times Forum show.

Bruno Mars doesn't need a ton of special effects to tizzy the modern masses. At a sold-out Tampa Bay Times Forum on Wednesday, the dude instead relied on sensible shoes, a rambunctious horn section and a sparkly stage wide enough to hold all of his time-travel instruments.

Mars' rocket-ship success on pop radio is boosted by a seeming originality; the smooth kid stands out in the 21st century, a unique grooving voice among the standard pop pap and grinding fare.

But if you sent him back to the '70s and '80s, the Honolulu native would fit in fine. He's a man of influences — Prince, MJ, Sly Stone — and he's managed to blend them with his own modern flash.

The 27-year-old Grammy winner born Peter Gene Hernandez also understands that showmanship is key — and maybe missing in many respects today — and although his 90-minute set for an all-ages, all-faces crowd of 14,172 was a bit slight, it was packed with an organic, holy-moly sexy energy. In case you didn't know, Mars sings about girls — all of them.

Backed by an eight-piece band, including that loose boogie-down brass ensemble, Mars and his mates uncorked opening song Moonshine like a modern-day Kool & the Gang. The sound was tight, banging, one of the best sound systems I've heard in the Forum.

Before the post-disco glam of Treasure — perhaps the randiest cut in his young but impressive songbook — he said, "We came to get you all movin', all shakin', all dancin'. Maybe even get you all sweatin'. So put your camera phones down!"

In other words: Unplug and listen. That's old-school, baby, punctuated by a giant disco ball that handled most of the cool lighting tricks.

Speaking of which, his smoky, rough-hewn delivery hit glorious high notes on a cover of Barrett Strong's 1959 slammer Money (That's What I Want), which featured Mars wailing out a solo on electric guitar. That segued into the '60s-style bonfire shuffle of Billionaire, a 2010 hit for Travie McCoy that Mars co-wrote and crooned on. (He'd later do an acoustic version of B.O.B.'s Nothin' on You, which he also helped make famous.)

Mars is comfortable in all his encyclopedic travels: reggae, mellow jazz, sepia-toned R&B. In one stretch, he ventured into all three, bedecked in a spotlight that made sure everyone in the house could see his thrusts and spin and snaps and absolute stone-cold stage presence. If I Knew was a secular gospel weeper with lush Motown harmonizing. It also included a hilarious tutorial in "R&B 101" and the pivotal importance of a well-placed "damn!"

Mars is a killer front man, but he made sure he and his band were locked-in together the whole show. They moved in unison, fiery formation, including on a blowout of Runaway Baby.

And together they charged into an all-hits finale: the Elton John-esque ballad When I Was Your Man, which showed off his soul-kissed croon; the thumping guitar-reinforced Grenade; and ballad Just the Way You Are, which expanded like nothing less than a big ol' Journey anthem in a live setting.

Mars opened an encore version of the Police-borrowing Locked Out of Heaven hammering on a drum kit. Soon enough, golden confetti rained down. For the closing Gorilla, jets of pyro shot through the night. Okay, so he busted out some big special effects after all. But you know what? Dude earned them.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Review: Bruno Mars puts on smooth, sexy show at Tampa Bay Times Forum 08/28/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 29, 2013 8:51am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 17: Think 11 miles of nothing but straight trail and open, flat fields sounds easy? Think again.

    Travel

    Day 17: Villarmentero de Campos to Lédigos: 33.5 km, 10.25 hours. Total for Days 1-17 = 394 km (245 miles)

  2. Tom Sawyer with a revolver? Twain house has live 'Clue' game

    Attractions

    HARTFORD, Conn. — Was it Tom Sawyer in Samuel Clemens' billiard room with a revolver?

    In this July 14 photo, actor Dan Russell, left, portraying the character Arkansas from Mark Twain's book Roughing it, responds to a question from 10-year-old Emma Connell, center, of Arizona during a "Clue" tour at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn. The tour allows visitors to interact with Twain characters while playing a live-action version of the board game. [AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb]
  3. Until this song, Alan Parsons Project stood on much higher ground

    Blogs

    Listening to yesterday's Keats song made me pine for more Alan Parsons Project music and today we dig deeper into their catalogue with Standing On Higher Ground.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 23

    Events

    Marie Antoinette: Freefall 411: A contemporary look at the historic pariah looks at Marie Antoinette through the lens of society's obsession with celebrity. Through August 13. A brief talk prior to the performance provides insight to the production. 1 p.m., show starts at 2 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central …

    Lucas Wells as King Louis XVI, left, and Megan Rippey as Marie Antoinette in Freefall Theatre's "Marie Antoinette."
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 22

    Events

    Snooty the Manatee's 69th Birthday Bash: Snooty, documented by Guinness World Records as the oldest known manatee in captivity, turns 69 and celebrates with children's games, art activities, cookies, drinks , interaction with Snooty the mascot and reduced price museum admission. 10 a.m., South Florida Museum, 201 …

    Snooty the manatee poses for a photo Thursday morning while three young manatees are unloaded from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Thursday morning at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
PAUL VIDELA/pvidela@bradenton.com 12/20/07