LIVE REVIEW: BRUNO MARS @ Molson Amphitheatre July 3, 2013

Bruno Mars
I love an artist that shows up on the scene with an angle. They start us out thinking one thing, while they’ve really got something completely different up their sleeve. They’re playing the field giving the market what it wants, maybe even needs at the time, and all the while they’re waiting on bated breath for the moment when our interests have peaked, numbers have been crunched, and they can finally reveal what they really came here to do. Bruno Mars is definitely one of those artists, and he proved that to the city of Toronto once and for all Wednesday night when his Moonshine Jungle Tour made a stop here at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.

By now most people know that Mars grew up performing with his family’s band, The Love Notes, and that even as a child he was a well-known Elvis impersonator around the island of Oahu. Having been exposed to a wide variety of artists at such a young age, Mars spent years performing songs by everyone from The Isley Brothers and The Temptations to Michael Jackson and Little Richard – artists that had a major impact on his future sound and performance style. But, what’s so fantastic about a guy like Bruno Mars is that not only does his music have roots, most of his core audience has no idea what they’re looking at.

For a guy like Mars it’s not about doing what’s been done before, it’s about writing and performing songs that are as good as the ones he grew up listening to. Not only does he embody all the characteristics that made early Pop, Rock and Roll, Motown and Soul so exciting the first time around, he knows how to present it in a way that makes sense to a whole new generation.

When things first started heating up in the early 50’s, music was about charisma, jive, and breakin’ loose with no excuse just cause it felt good inside. It was a new and exciting time, things were frenzied, people we’re hungry and the music was alive with sex and possibility. Yeah, sex and possibility. That’s what made Elvis Presley’s pelvic thrusting so dangerous in the eyes of parents across America. Nobody wanted their pristine teenage daughter falling defenselessly for some greased up punk’s uncontrollable hips. Aw no.

These days we’re a little more forth coming about sex in the media, which is why Wednesday night’s performance was no problem at all. From his rendition of Genuine’s “My Pony” to just about every one of his own songs, Mars had proverbial panties dropping left and right. He was up there slow grinding his mic stand, hittin’ every beat, and humbly shovin’ his dick in the air while every guy’s girlfriend stood there imaging herself as the woman in his arms, in his bed, in his songs. Then, he dropped into “Marry You” – I don’t know, could all 5 foot 4 inches of this guy possibly appeal more to the female psyche?

When it comes to capturing the attention of the female demographic, Mars is just as great a force as any of those who came before him. His throw back style is a natural fit, and even watching him do renditions of other people’s songs only added to the shows’ grandeur. His band, which included a fully stacked horn section, didn’t waste a single moment standing in the background. They were right upfront with him, choreographed dance moves and all, giving his live show that classic Motown feel.

Even if you can’t be bothered with his music or you’re just a little to cool to admit it, you absolutely cannot deny this guy’s ability as an all around entertainer. Mars is an incredible songwriter, a well-rounded musician (don’t knock him if you ain’t never seen this guy rock), and an absolute showman. A Bruno Mars concert is about the all-encompassing performance, and that’s what makes a guy like this stand out.

He did a bang up job on the encore, leaving the crowd on a high note with “Locked Out Of Heaven” and another fan favourite from his latest album Unorthodox Jukebox, “Gorilla.” The show came to a close just as any perfect song would, and the audience gave Mars the kind of applause he deserved.

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