Bruno Mars Charms NYC Fans, With Special Guest Pharrell
Bruno Mars is the kind of pop music artist who truly has fans of all ages, from kids who come into the city with their moms and dads on the train from Long Island for his concert, to a white-haired older woman who practically starts a dance party during intermission. (Highlight: seeing her climb over her chair into an aisle as House of Pain's 'Jump Around' is blasting through Madison Square Garden.)
It's not just concerts that bring his fans out from, well, everywhere.
When he performed during the 2014 Super Bowl halftime show, my mother-in-law commented, "I really like the first group," referring to Bruno Mars and his band. The Red Hot Chili Peppers didn't exactly appeal to her, though: "This one is awful. What kind of getup is that?"
At my wedding reception, where we played Bruno Mars' romantic hit song 'Marry You' (because how could we not?), one of the venue's middle-aged catering employees wistfully said that it's his favorite song to hear when he's working a wedding party.
So it came as no surprise to me that the crowd last night (July 14) at the first of his two sold-out New York City shows was so mixed -- in age, gender and race. As he seamlessly transitioned from one song to the next, it didn't matter whether he was singing a mega-hit like 'Marry You,' an album track like 'Moonshine' or a cover of 'Money (That's What I Want)' mashed up with 'Billionaire,' his 2010 single with Travie McCoy. No matter what song he performed, he had a captive audience on their feet, and he made it look effortless. The only moments of reprieve came during a couple of his ballads, and during those performances, sitting down for a minute to really pay attention to his emotional vocals just felt right.
Bruno Mars Performs 'Marry You' Live at Madison Square Garden
What makes Bruno Mars so likable?
To start, it could simply be that he makes good music, and not just on the records. The songs translate well to the stage -- they're maybe even better in that setting than they are over the radio or through your headphones. His live band is not only talented, but also a little cheeky with their synchronized dance moves. The actual stage show isn't boring, but it's not over-the-top, either. The focus is on a man and his band, with a little bit of fireworks and confetti here and there, at points where it's meant to enhance the performance rather than overshadow it.
Or maybe it's his earnestness that makes him so easy to like. "We made it," he said onstage early on in his set. "We here, baby. You know how long I been waiting to play on this stage?"
When he asked that question, it felt more like a friend glowing about a promotion than a multi-platinum superstar reciting lines. When he did sing 'Billionaire,' the inflection of his voice really made you believe that just like us everyday, non-famous people, he's wanted something so bad that it hurts. And when he smiled, it's true: The whole room stopped and stared for a while. (He has one killer smile.)
Bruno Mars Performs 'Just the Way You Are' Live at Madison Square Garden
Bruno Mars' New York show featured special guest Pharrell as the opening act. Pharrell closed his set with 'Happy,' which was the perfect lead-in to Bruno Mars' feel-good headlining show.
The 'Happy' hitmaker spotted a super devoted fan at the front of the audience and likely made one of the best memories of her life last night.
"I wanted to bring someone up who was in the front, who I would love to share this happy moment with. Hi, Lindsey," he said, greeting a female fan who was brought to the stage in her wheelchair.
"You really have a front row seat now, baby," he said.
Pharrell Performs 'Happy' Live at Madison Square Garden