Bruno Mars gives a big crowd a bold, bright dose of old-school revelry

08/10/2013 1:20 PM

08/10/2013 5:29 PM

Bruno Mars can do it all, with charisma and charm. He writes hit pop tunes. He produces hit albums. He plays some slick guitar and piano. He sings like an old-school soul singer. He dances. He jokes with and cajoles his band mates. And, as he showed a crowd of more than 13,500 Friday night at the Sprint Center, he knows his way around a drum kit.

His 90-minute show was relentlessly entertaining. Backed by nine-piece band, including a three-piece horn section, Mars opened with from his second and most-recent album “Unorthodox Jukebox”: “Moonshine,” an effervescent pop-soul tune with a Michael Jackson flavor, then the irresistibly funky “Treasure,” which bounces to a Kool & the Gang vibe. Next: a gritty cover of Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” that proved his romance with classic soul and R&B is no fad or fling but is deep and enduring. A few times, he and his band evoked the sounds and spirits of legends like Otis Redding and even James Brown, during the groove-fest “Runaway Baby,” one of several highlights.

All night, Mars and his band, especially the horn players, interacted with each other and the crowd up front. They executed some pulled off some endearing dance choreography that revived more old-school memories.

They followed “Money” with “Billionaire,” the 2010 blockbuster single Mars co-wrote for Travie McCoy. His guest vocals on that hit introduced Mars to millions of music fans. Later that year, he released his debut album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” which has gone double platinum and won a Grammy award (it was nominated for seven).

The setllist featured four “Hooligans” tracks, including the feel-good love anthem “Just the Way You Are,” which closed the first set and ignited a sing-along from the floor to the rafters. Other highlights: “Nothin’ On You,” performed on acoustic guitar; “When I Was Your Man,” performed solo at the piano; and “Grenade,” a horn-infested tune that lived up to its name.

The encore opened with Mars behind the drum kit, where he delivered a brief but entertaining solo. After that: “Locked Out of Heaven,” which ended in a blizzard of gold confetti; then “Gorilla,” which ended with a blaze of flashpots and lasers. The visuals were fun but unnecessary. This evening, the star, his band and their music provided plenty of entertainment on their own.

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