Review by Kara Bertoncini
One of the biggest joys I have doing with my hard-earned money is spending it on concert tickets to see my favorite artists. Live music feeds the soul more than people may realize, and as much fun as it is to blast music and dance around at home, nothing beats immersing yourself in the splendor of a concert arena. Recently, my life was changed and enriched when I saw Bruno Mars live in concert at Madison Square Garden.
Having listened to Mars’ successful albums, Doo-Wops & Hooligans and Unorthodox Jukebox, I really had no idea how versatile he was. He is more than just some pop artist being churned out by record labels. He is a singer, a songwriter, a producer, a dancer, and a ridiculous musician. He even showed us how ridiculous he was by taking charge of his electric guitar in “Marry Me,” and “Grenade,” and then the drum kit at the beginning of his encore to “Locked Out Of Heaven.” His versatility is something that will stand the test of time in this industry, and there is no doubt he will continue to impress fans with his talents.
The Moonshine Jungle Tour show kicked off in Madison Square Garden with “Moonshine,” which set the tone for the whole evening. As the curtains dropped, Mars and his band were in silhouette while smoke filled the stage. Once the lights came up, the crowd went wild, myself included! This was a powerful opening to the show giving us a blend of R&B, soul, and reggae sounds with new arrangements and grander instrumentations, which are different to what we’ve heard on his recordings. For a man quite short in stature, his showmanship is grandiose, and “Moonshine” was the perfect way to open the show.
What I noticed about Mars as the show evolved, and his performance escalated, was how much he embodied every single lyric, every single note, every single instrument, every single movement, and every single roar of applause from the audience. Most pop stars have an air of arrogance about them, or a persona they assume whilst on stage. Bruno Mars does not fit that description. There is nothing complicated about Mars: what you see is what you get, and what we got was a guy jamming out with his band mates on stage, joking around with them and giving the audience his all.
The production quality on Mars’ album is sophisticated and clean, but there’s nothing I love more than the grit of live emotions and vocals. Mars demonstrates incredible vocal stamina, as the arrangements for what are normally three-minute songs turn into sometimes five or six-minute epic re-workings. He plays with rhythms and key changes, his ad libs are out of this world, and his vocal gymnastics are a joy to anyone’s ears.
It should be noted, that none of this mastery would be possible without the precision and undeniable talent of his band members, best known as “The Hooligans.” There is no other band that I have seen live in concert as extraordinary as this one. They have style, charisma, groove, stamina and above all, incredible talent. You can see that they are all there to support each other, and to lift the performance to new heights. In fact, many times throughout the show, they would come together and dance with Mars, and engage with the audience like I’ve never seen before.
The stage production in the show came together seamlessly and added another dimension to the performance. There was musicality between the effects and the music, which meant the show was polished and well thought out. The use of warm lighting and bright colors matched the positive vibe Mars and his band created, and the use of pyrotechnics was just as phenomenal. In the show’s encore, “Gorilla,” the audience was wowed by a green lazer light show, as fireworks rained over the stage and huge bursts of fire lit the whole arena. Throughout the show, the audience was engrossed in everything Mars did. He had us singing along with him the whole time and made sure we were a part of the whole experience.
I think that is what I enjoy most from going to live concerts. It’s an experience that you share not only with the person you go with, but the artists themselves. It’s the moment you can give back to them what they give to you when you buy their music and listen to it on repeat. My experience with Bruno Mars is one I will cherish forever and it has set a new standard of live performance for me. Bruno Mars is one of those artists who sounds better live than his recordings, and anyone who has the opportunity to see him in concert, should.
BRUNO MARS “MOONSHINE JUNGLE TOUR” 7.14.2014 AT MSG, NYC SET LIST:
5. Show Me/Our First Time
6. Marry You
7. If I Knew/It Will Rain
8. Runaway Baby
9. Nothin’ On You
10. When I Was Your Man
11. Piano Interlude
13. Just The Way You Are
14. Drum Solo/Locked Out Of Heaven (Encore)
15. Gorilla (Encore)