The last time Bruno Mars performed in San Francisco he played to hundreds of adoring fans at Slim’s. The small club was packed and a line wrapped around the block. Tickets were in high demand and many of the attendees were forced to stand in the brisk November air and listen to “Grenade,” from the sidewalk.
This time around Mars was able to accommodate a few thousand at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The sold out show also featured a set from the talented Mayer Hawthorne and a captivating performance by Janelle Monae. But once Mars hit the stage the camera phones lit up the venue, the screams were ear splitting and it was clear that a super star was front and center.
Janelle Monae’s performance was unique, refreshing and most of all entertaining. She channeled Michael Jackson perfectly, to the point of it being creepy, on several occasions with covers that were anything but usual. The entire set followed suit. With a small army behind her which included dancers who changed their outfits more than Lady Gaga at an awards show, Monae took the stage by storm.
Not only is Monae a talented vocalist she is what all the up and coming artists need to look at. And emulate. Monae’s set was performance art at its finest. No question she’s a throwback. Images of James Brown were flashed on the screen multiple times, and undoubtedly, flew over the heads of the young audience. It didn’t really matter though. The show was electrifying and when she cleared the stage the audience reacted. They wanted an encore.
Mars has yet to break out onto his own headlining tour. This was it. The semi trucks were lined up outside the venue and Bruno has finally gotten his chance to have giant video screens, an elaborate stage and the large rooms packed by thousands of fans that artists dream of. Mars is making the most of his opportunity. “The Doo Wops and Hooligans Tour” didn’t disappoint.
Of course there’s “Grenade,” and “Just The Way You Are,” and about a dozen other sappy love songs that Mars has penned and received fat paychecks from. The radio spins are non stop and iTunes download numbers are still climbing. Those songs sell the tickets and that’s what the fans come to hear. It’s Mars personality and raw talent that put him above the rest. “Grenade,” was interrupted by a blaring guitar solo. “The Lazy Song,” received a facelift melodically as well as a five minute story that had the audience laughing. Mars has owned stages since he was a toddler, impersonating Elvis when he was four, and it shows. He’s a consummate professional and he knows how to work a crowd.
The encore was the high point of the performance as Mars made one final attempt to woo the audience. When the house lights went up there was no doubt that this tour was one of the finest to come through San Francisco in this young concert season. The acts complemented each other perfectly and Mars shone bright as a head liner. And of course a Mars was playing over the radio airwaves as the scores of fans made their way out of the sold out venue.