BRUNO MARS @ Perth Arena gets 8/10

Bruno Mars @ Perth Arena
w/ Dua Lipa
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

8/10

Bruno Mars may have been born and raised in Honolulu, but his concerts are more in the mould of a Vegas showman. At the first of two huge nights at Perth Arena playing to some 30,000 punters this week, we saw not only a song and dance man nearing the peak of his powers, but a thrilling stage show ensuring every song felt like an event.

Before that, the UK’s biggest pop export of the last year Dua Lipa made an impression of her own. Striking in a pair of cheeky sparkling pants, she delivered a girl power set worthy of making her the Spice Girls’ heir apparent.

Self-described as “dark pop”, Be the One had the crowd singing along early while Blow Your Mind (Mwah) hinted at the edgieness underneath the gloss as she queried, “If we don’t fuck this whole thing up”. It was a precursor of sorts to her two biggest hits; first IDGAF, during which she raised two middle fingers while singing “Boy I don’t give a fuck,” much to delight of the young audience. Better still was New Rules, a modern girl power anthem rewriting the rules for tackling break ups as well as how to be the UK’s fastest rising pop star since Adele. She’ll be back.

Bruno Mars

With the curtain’s draped around Bruno Mars‘ purpose-built stage, anticipation for what was behind them was on high during the break. When they finally rose to reveal half his band emerging in smoke from the floor while the other half stood in a line behind itching to get going, it was immediately apparent we were in for something special.

Finesse was a great opener teamed with a bright coloured, flashing Rubik’s Cube design, and 24K Magic immediately upped the ante with the roman numerals XXIV emerging from the stage and fireworks going off. Mars brought the sold out crowd to their feet and backing vocalists from of his band The Hooligans transformed into a three-piece horn section for Treasure, while the James Brown-inspired Perm lined the standing players across the front of the stage for a super-slick sideways shuffle.

There were plenty of 80s and early 90s-inspired retro pop flashbacks, from Mars’ individual moments of fancy footwork replicating Michael Jackson to his guitar solo shred for Calling All My Lovelies, a nod to Prince’s Purple Rain, accompanied by lasers shot across the arena.

Bruno Mars

Five songs in and it was getting no less spectacular. The production was such that every single song felt like an event, even on lesser cuts like Versace on the Floor which returned to the Rubik’s Cube theme, this time with gold blocks suggesting Versace opulence. Yes, a power ballad called Versace on the Floor. Phone torches lit up the arena, tongues were in cheek and it was a little comical.

That’s What I Like featured more pyros, but more importantly catchy tunes like this and Marry Me had the crowd in the master showman’s hand – more genuine ear worms like these and Mars might not have to rely on the ear splitting pyrotechnics so much.

A drum solo made way for the night’s most rocking tune, Runaway Baby, though Mars brought the song to a standstill to warn the crowd: “if you’re going to be quiet we’re going to be quiet too,” and the band laid down on stage in response. It was all a rouse to give Bruno some me-time dancing solo, of course, until the beat kicked back in and the entire stage turned into a giant mirror ball in one of the night’s most spectacular moments.

Bruno Mars

Piano ballad When I Was Your Man might have been a chance for Mars to show off his considerable vocal chops were it not for the crowd overpowering him, and by the time he left the stage an hour in to allow keyboardist John Fossit a dramatic piano solo, it felt like A LOT had happened.

When he returned, The Police-inspired highlight Locked Out of Heaven brought confetti showers, before the lights came up for early anthem Just the Way You Are. Even the band intros were a bunch of fun, before they cleared the stage and the curtains dropped signalling the encore.

Yet Mars had saved the best till last and his return for Mark Ronson collab Uptown Funk was as funky as the name suggests, bringing the house down with a crescendo of horns so hot that, in a final act of theatre, crew dressed as firemen hit the stage to cool it down. As the curtains dropped around the band for a final time, at least the crowd were¬†already on their feet, some considering a return visit for tonight’s show.

HARVEY RAE

Photos courtesy of Live Nation

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