Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Oh yeah, yeah

Bruno Mars shows why he's a contender for King of Pop

  • Print

For a long time, Justin Timberlake seemed to be the heir apparent to the late Michael Jackson's crown as King of Pop -- but there's a serious argument to be made for Bruno Mars.

Because while JT may have the moves, Bruno's got the pipes.

The 28-year-old Hawaiian singer/songwriter born Peter Gene Hernandez (yeah, doesn't quite carry the same star power) made good use of that show-stopping voice -- all three octaves of it -- when he dropped by the MTS Centre Saturday night as part of his five-leg, 154-show Moonshine Jungle tour in support of his Grammy-winning 2012 sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox.

Over the course of a tight, bright set that contained all of his radio-dominating hits, Mars and his inimitable backing band proved you don't need arena bombast to put on a great arena show. There was some pyro, sure -- but the focus was put squarely on musicianship.

Taking the stage at 9:20 p.m., Mars -- dressed island cool in his loafers and trademark fedora -- started strong right out of the gate with Moonshine, Natalie and the brassy disco-funk number Treasure, which was the night's first big choreographed number. His backing band can shake it, to be sure; but, unlike so many glossy, high-production arena shows, the choreography felt light and loose as opposed to over-rehearsed and overwrought. Mars and his gang left room for spontaneity, and it always looked like they were having the most fun in the room.

Still, while there was certainly stunning showmanship on display, what were no doubt nuanced performances by seasoned players were often lost to a thunderous rumble of bass -- especially up in the 300-level seats. Mercifully, Mars' indelible pipes were never dwarfed by the sternum-vibrating sound. His performances were powerful and acrobatic, athletic yet effortless.

The MJ comparisons are inevitable, but Mars also has a Prince-level preoccupation with sex -- see: a down 'n' dirty medley that featured Ginuwine's Pony and, ugh, R. Kelly's Ignition. What's perhaps most striking about watching Mars perform is his agility; there's no genre he can't wrap those pipes around, from Barrett Strong's well-covered R&B staple Money (That's What I Want) to the pure pop of Marry You. (Sadly, those grating church bells from the recording made it into the live show.)

Mars is best, though, when he's soulful. His performance of When I Was Your Man -- "I've written a lot of songs, and this is the hardest one to write and the hardest one to sing," he said -- was absolutely breathtaking. When he closed the main set with the anthemic Just The Way You Are at press time, he was rewarded with an enthusiastic singalong from an adoring crowd.

(Mars closed the show with the Police-indebted Locked Out of Heaven and the raunchy romp Gorilla.)

In a summer that has seen -- and will see -- no shortage of spectacle from the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Katy Perry, Bruno Mars' show was a nice reminder of how much entertainment can be derived from straight-up singing and dancing.

Norwegian Afrobeat/R&B duo Nico and Vinz opened the show with a charismatic 30-minute set that culminated in their breakout summer hit Am I Wrong?

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2014 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg police comment on two officers that resuscitated baby

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Are you planning to go visit the new polar bear, Humphrey, at the Assiniboine Park Zoo?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google