The streets around Bridgestone Arena are abnormally empty- that’s because it doesn’t matter if your 4 or 74, all ages have come to celebrate Bruno Mars and are already inside.
We grab a concert tee to remember the night by and head to our seats. Just moments before Bruno Mars takes the stage, I have a conversation with an Aussie who is in town for the show. Fitting, those who come to see, come from all over. It’s Bruno Mars.
The stage is covered by a drape bearing the seal of Bruno’s royalty- a gold laurel wreath framing a crown that reads “MARS.” Soon the lights go down and the drape ascends to reveal the reason we’ve gathered.
The beat of “Finesse” melded with the screaming crowd fills the arena. The silhouettes of Bruno and his band, the Hooligans, are in contrast to the bright, primary colors behind them. Bruno is sporting a Hooligans jersey and matching hat that is holding his wild curls in place.
XXIV in massive block letters descends to the stage during the tour’s namesake, “24k Magic.” For all of the times that I have danced to it in my car and imagined what it would be like in person- it’s even better. The crowd borrows Bruno’s confidence and owns the lyrics as if they are true of themselves: cuban links, designer minks and Inglewood’s finest shoes.
It’s a true dance party and Bruno urges the crowd to put away camera phones and dance with him. I realize that I’ve never danced so hard or so much at any concert before.
The party keeps on rollin’ through “Treasure” and “Perm” with all-band choreographed dance arrangements.
A spotlight shines on Bruno as the rest of the stage disappears in the dark. As the light reflects off of the guitar in his hands and gold chain around his neck, Bruno shreds a guitar solo intro to “Calling All My Lovelies.” The groove increases while the dancing transitions into a light sway.
The sound of a phone receiver plays over the arena speakers. Bruno is illuminated on the stage holding a retro gold phone. In his raspiest voice, he begins his voicemail to the unknown caller, knowing exactly how to provoke the crowd he whispers, “Aye baby, I’m in Nashville right now…” During the sultry message he teases his newest Gucci Mane/Kodak Black collaboration, “Wake Up in the Sky.”
Bruno ditches the phone and primes the crowd for “Chunky”:
“Now where the ladies at, all the thick girls get up…
if you got a big booty put your hands up…
if you know how to use it put your hands up”
The set moves from one curve celebration to another with “That’s What I Like.”
After a saxophone solo, there is relative silence. With the sound of a few opening chords, the audience erupts in cheers at the anticipation of “Versace on the Floor.” Bruno is on a rising platform that is branded in Versace likeness.
After much of the 24k Magic album has been performed, the flashy dance party side of Bruno’s music takes a backseat. With just a microphone in hand, he takes the crowd back in time with “Nothin’ on You” and “It Will Rain.”
Bruno introduces the following song by saying it was the hardest he has ever written/released. “When I Was Your Man” does what I hadn’t anticipated. The combination of Bruno’s impressive pipes and the ticket holder’s memories of the song causes tears and chills. It’s true. We feel it. I feel it. I watch people wipe their eyes during and after the song.
A brilliant classical piano solo done by one of the Hooligans follows.
After “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Just the Way You Are,” the drape covers the stage once again. In encore, “Uptown Funk” is full-energy, dance-like-no-one-is-watching fun. A true celebration.
A night I hope I never forget.
Thanks, Bruno + Nashville.