Bruno Mars At Hollywood Bowl

  • Bruno Mars at the Hollywood Bowl
    Photo: Florent Déchard

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Steve Baltin
Los Angeles

Two months into 2014 Bruno Mars had already enjoyed a better year than many artists can ever hope to have in an entire career. After taking home the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 26 (marking his second career win), a week later the multitalented singer/songwriter/producer turned in one of the best Super Bowl halftime performances in recent years.

Yet, Mars seemed genuinely humble on June 1 as he headlined his second consecutive sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl.

At various points in the 90-minute set, Mars showed his chops on guitar, delivered heartfelt ballads and presided over a drawn-out R&B jam. Though the latter went on a bit long, his ability to play in any style was impressive. And he paid homage to his musical roots with a little doo-wop action.

While Mars is a musical chameleon who can shine in any format, he has established himself first and foremost as an artist who writes great pop hooks. His craftsmanship was on display starting with the up-tempo opener, "Moonshine," which was augmented by lasers and lights. 

Mars has learned a lot from the masters as a showman, as evidenced by his choreography, which found him and his Hooligan band showcasing some nimble dance moves in a line on multiple occasions. And perhaps what sets Mars apart from so many other pop artists is his ability to work choreography seamlessly into his set, having it feel natural and good-natured, as it should be. It only added to the joy of songs such as "Natalie" and "Treasure."

"I want you to know how surreal this is for me," he told the crowd, before recalling how he used to perform covers during three-hour sets at local L.A. clubs such as King King and Molly Malone's. "Would you want to hear what we would do back in the day for pizza?"

Mars and his superb band then showed what they used to do, starting with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." They then ran through four decades in moments, including the Outfield's "Your Love," Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison," Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step," Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," as well as his Record Of The Year-nominated collaboration with B.o.B, "Nothin' On You."

Other highlights were as expected, including the main set closers "Just The Way You Are," "Grenade," and a medley of "Money (That's What I Want)" and "Billionaire."

The honesty of "When I Was Your Man," which he introduced by talking about the difficult personal situation that led to the song, was another standout performance and cemented the bond between Mars and his adoring audience, which ran from 6 to 70. In one box near me, a mom and her young daughter held hands and danced often throughout the night.

Such a wide audience demographic is something you'd expect to encounter at a classic rock concert. But to see a contemporary artist with cross-generational appeal is rarer. Mars is able to reach multiple generations because of the scope of his talent and his acute appreciation of music history. Maybe more up-and-coming artists should work their way up playing covers — you can't argue with Mars' success.

Set List:

"Money (That's What I Want)" (Barrett Strong cover)/"Billionaire" /"California Love" (2Pac cover) (medley)
"Bam Bam" (Sister Nancy cover)/"Show Me"/"Our First Time"/"Pony" (Ginuwine cover)/"Ignition" (R. Kelly cover) (medley)
"Let It Please Be You" (Desires cover)/"Marry You"
"If I Knew"/"It Will Rain"
"Runaway Baby"
"Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin cover)/"Your Love" (Outfield cover) (medley)
"Poison" (Bell Biv DeVoe cover)
"This Is How We Do It" (Montell Jordan cover)
"Every Little Step" (Bobby Brown cover)
"Rock With You" (Michael Jackson cover)
"Nothin' On You"
"When I Was Your Man"
"Just The Way You Are"
"Locked Out Of Heaven"

Catch Bruno Mars in a city near you

(Steve Baltin has written about music for Rolling StoneLos Angeles TimesMOJOChicago Tribune, AOL, LA Weekly, Philadelphia WeeklyThe Hollywood Reporter, and dozens more publications.)

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