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Music review

Bruno Mars brilliantly balanced

By Jennifer Christman Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published June 11, 2014 at 12:49 a.m.

singer-bruno-mars-hits-north-little-rocks-verizon-arena-on-june-10th

Singer Bruno Mars hits North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena on June 10th.

One of Bruno Mars' best-loved, breeziest hits might be "The Lazy Song" (lyrics: "Today, I don't feel like doing anything. I just wanna lay in my bed.")

But the Hawaiian pop singer — and dancer and guitarist and drummer — is hardly a slacker on stage, he proved performing almost nonstop during his 90-minute Moonshine Jungle Tour set Tuesday night. Mars, this year's Super Bowl's musical superstar, filled both the upper and lower bowls of North Little Rock's Verizon Arena with a sell-out crowd of 15,117.

Mars, 28, brilliantly balanced old-school soul and style with a modern sensibility. He dressed like Michael Jackson (highwater pants, loafers, fedora) and he grooved like James Brown while enhancing his hit "Our First Time" with Ginuwine's "Pony" and R. Kelly's "Ignition." He made an unlikely mashup of his hit "Billionaire" with "Money (That's What I Want)" and 2Pac's "California Love" masterful.

Not that this Mars mission was a solo one. The singer was backed by eight Hooligans, his merry, multitasking band members who not only played instruments and sang, but executed smooth choreographed moves, from the upbeat opening songs "Moonshine" and "Natalie" to the glittery, explosive encore numbers "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Gorilla." Other group highlights included a rousing "Runaway Baby" and a combustible "Grenade," complete with fiery blasts (elaborate lighting and a big dazzling disco ball were other production elements).

Mars did have one solitary number, belting a vulnerable version of his ballad "When I Was Your Man." Then again, the mostly soprano crowd sang along so loudly, he almost couldn't be heard.

Multifaceted Aloe Blacc started the show with an energetic, eclectic 45 minutes of his hits, the biggest being affirmation anthem "The Man," the rural-sounding "Wake Me Up," and the rocking "Can You Do This." Blessed with Mars-esque blending abilities, he transitioned from his "I Need a Dollar" (that song from Boost Mobile commercials) into Hall & Oates, The Police and Bob Marley.

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