Bruno Mars is a modern-day musical renaissance man. He knows and does so many different styles of music, with such ease and finesse, that you hardly notice the genre-hopping. In one stretch, he can bounce from reggae, to mellow jazz, to a sepia-toned R&B. He can and he does.You don’t know where he is going or what he’ll do next, so that you’re loving what you’re listening to. As if Miami needed to get any hotter this summer, Bruno Mars brought everything hot and sexy from the jungles of funk and soul to Miami to conclude the US leg of his Moonshine Jungle tour. And it was thrilling!
Backed by an eager and energetic eight piece band, Mars opened the show with “Moonshine”, the song by which the tour gets its name. The song selection was deliberate, as Bruno Mars was about to “take us to the stars tonight. Take us to that special place…” where you feel alive. Clad in an unbuttoned button-down shirt and leather vest, Mars looked retro and laid back. From there, Mars and his dancing band continued churning out throbbing beats with “Natalie” and “Treasure”.
Then came one of the show-stopping numbers of the night, “Marry You”. Engulfing the stage and audience in hues of blues and purple, this song took on a life of its own as the entire sold out American Airlines Arena sang along with the Mars.
The show then took a turn toward slower jams, reflecting Bruno Mars’ penchant for the R&B styles of the past. “I have a special place in my heart for old music,” said Mars. “The music I grew up listening to.” With that, he then did a killer Motown/Sam Cooke-esque version of “If I Knew”. Keeping things smooth and sultry, Mars then gave the audience a tutorial in “R&B 101”, which examined the importance of a well-placed and whispered “damn!”
He show continued the rip-roaring ride through the past with a funk-tastic version of “Runaway Baby”. It was during this song that the dancing chops of both Bruno Mars and his four piece brass band took center stage. To the audience’s absolute delight, strategically placed spotlights captured every one of their thrusts, spins, snaps, and slides.
Interestingly, the most poignant moment of the night had nothing to do with sexy bravado. Admitting to it being “hard to write and hard to sing,” Mars then launched into an achingly truthful rendition of “If I Was Your Man.” Stopping several times to collect himself under the brim of his Panama hat, the song provided a glimpse into the life of a songwriter that has lived with the pain in the songs he sings. Turning things around, Mars closed the show with an all-hits set. He did a rock-infused version of “Grenade” and a powerfully uplifting “Just the Way You Are” that reverberated throughout the arena.
His first encore number was perhaps the best version of “Locked Out of Heaven” I’ve ever heard. It was every breathless hope, every wonderful emotion, every musical style wrapped up into one raw and anthemic package. Bruno Mars then closed the show with his latest single, “Gorilla” which summed up the show nicely: “…in this jungle you can’t run / ‘Cause what I got for you / I promise it’s a killer”.
There is little doubt that Bruno Mars can do and did do it all exceedingly well! Part of the reason that Mars is so good is that he knows so much music from the past. He loves and cultivates the styles of the past and makes them relevant to a modern audience. Another part of his success comes directly from pure and unadulterated talent. Bruno Mars was born to write, to sing, and to play music. He is the love child of Michael Jackson and James Brown. He is a proven and worthy torch-bearer for these marvelous