Retro. Energetic. Dynamic. Old-school. Entertaining. Memorable. Words used to describe a live performance by Bruno Mars. When the five foot four inches tall singer steps onto the stage, with his signature stingy-brimmed fedora hat on, there is nothing small about his showmanship.
According to The Boston Globe music critique, Sarah Rodman, Bruno Mars shows an “indefatigable ecstatic approach to performing” and “classic showmanship.” His shows, which are influenced by the disco era, usually feature pyrotechnics, laser and strobe lighting. In 2013 Rolling Stone magazine listed Bruno Mars as number 35 of the “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.”
“Anyone from the age of 5 to 95 can walk out of a Bruno Mars concert feeling like the show was designed just for them,” wrote the magazine. “Mars walks the old-school walk (occasionally in James Brown‘s funky shoes) and talks the sexy talk (sometimes in Prince-like come-ons), but he also nails the hits, leads a super-energetic nine-piece soul band, and rips a mean drum solo.”
Bruno Mars’ musical style has been described as pop-rock mixed with funk, soul, reggae and R&B. His performances are accompanied by his backup band The Hooligans; featuring backup singer Phillip Lawrence, guitarist Phredley Brown, bassist Jamareo Artis, drummer Eric Hernandez (Bruno Mars‘ brother), trombonist Kameron Whalum, saxophone player Dwayne Dugger, trumpeter James King and pianist and keyboard player John Fossitt.
The Hooligans is more than just a backup band for the singer. They also perform James Brown inspired choreographed dance moves with Bruno Mars. Of the band, Alabama News said: “They’re essential to the proceedings, teaming with the star and supporting him at every turn. Typically, six of the Hooligans form a line with Mars downstage – singing, playing, dancing and presenting a united front that’s a pleasure to behold.”
In 2010 Bruno Mars packed his tour bus for the first time and traveled North America as an opening act for Maroon 5’s Hands All Over Tour in October. Later the same month he embarked on a 13-date tour of Europe – co-headlining with Travie McCoy, after the pair released the hit single “Billionaire” earlier in the year. They played shows in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and France.
In November 2010 Bruno Mars embarked on his first concert tour, The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour. The world tour began in San Francisco, United States, with the song “The Other Side” from Bruno Mars’ debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans.
The United States leg of the tour ended in his home country Hawaii, and on 19 December he played a homecoming show in Honolulu to a sold out crowd of 10,000 fans. By the end of The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour in 2012, Bruno Mars had headlined in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean.
Bruno Mars’ second world tour, the Moonshine Jungle Tour, ran from June 2013 to October 2014. The show’s set list included songs from his albums Doo-Wops & Hooligans and Unorthodox Jukebox, as well as a few cover songs. As an encore he performed the songs “Locked out of Heaven” and “Gorilla,” complete with laser lights, fireballs, confetti and fireworks.
The Moonshine Jungle Tour received mostly positive reviews. “Mars’ tasteful application of arena-show trickery could serve as an example to young stars still figuring out what to do with a room this size,” said Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times.
He concluded: “In its boundless energy and seemingly effortless precision, Mars’ performance is about performance itself – about how giving yourself over to show business can actually serve as a kind of liberating force. The harder he played, the easier it appeared to get.”
Amidst the Moonshine Jungle Tour, Bruno Mars delivered probably his most iconic performance on 2 February 2014 at the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show. Donned in a retro gold lame jacket with a white shirt, black trousers and skinny black tie (custom made by Saint Laurent), Bruno Mars kicked off the show with a drum solo.
He then proceeded to delight the audience with explosive renditions of the songs “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure,” “Runaway Baby” and “Just the Way You Are.” The show also included a cameo performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Another memorable performance by Bruno Mars was his delivery of the song “Uptown Funk” on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in January 2015. While Mark Ronson was spinning away in the DJ booth, Bruno Mars and The Hooligans began the show in the front row of the audience. What made the show unique was that the song started with the audience participating in a synchronized dance and providing backup vocals (singing the “hot damn” part). The song ended with firemen using extinguishers to simulate a smoke machine – that’s how hot the show was.
His next world tour, the 24K Magic World Tour, is scheduled to commence on 28 March 2017 at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium, and conclude on 11 November 2017 at The Forum in Inglewood, United States. Although the set list for the shows is yet to be revealed, we can venture a guess as to how it ends: almost all of Bruno Mars’ shows ends with the song “Just the Way You Are.”
The Super Bowl halftime show ended with Bruno Mars standing midfield singing “Just the Way You Are,” while he was backed by the biggest firework display in Super Bowl history. Bruno Mars is, after all, also a pint-sized star with explosive qualities.