Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Bruno Mars - 24k Magic Tour @ O2 Arena
Remember when Bruno Mars used to be a cute doo-woppy popstar? "I'd catch a grenade for you." Aww thanks Bruno. "You're amazing just the way you are." Oh stop it, you're making me blush.
Now though, he stands onstage and orders his fans to "activate your sexy". He wants us to throw our Versace on the floor and "kiss 'till we're naked". He invites our asses to his condo to "pop it for a pimp...turn around and drop it for a pimp". And he sings an ode to the larger lady ("Girl, you better have your hair weave strapped on tight, 'cause once we get going, we rolling") with the word "CHUNKY" emblazoned on the screens behind him. Don't like it? Then you should "loosen them shoulders up...throw some perm on your attitude...you gotta lay it back...band, show her how to lay it back".
With third album '24k Magic', Bruno Mars has fully transformed from popstar next door to utter sleazebag. He may see himself as a ladies' man, but his lyrics come off as misogynistic as he sings vapid songs about sex and nothingness. The title track is the album's best, but does anyone have a clue what it's even about?
Sadly it's songs from '24k Magic' that make up the majority of the setlist for this world tour. Sparks fly, the stage is enveloped in bright colours, and the band bring plenty of energy as they frantically jump about the stage in an attempt to generate some interest. But nothing can elevate these songs, the seedy lyrics, or the constant crotch thrusting.
What's almost more offensive, though, is the complete lack of originality. For these songs, Mars has basically ripped off the 90s - Boyz II Men, Run DMC and everything in between. The smooth sex jams, the funk basslines, the chiming synths, the vocal harmonies. There's even a whole skit where he phones one of his countless (probably) female admirers for some sexy time. For the most part, it's laughable pastiche.
Mars is certainly a showman and he knows how to work an audience. His voice glides impressively to upper registers (accompanied by awesome backing singers) as he shows off some fancy footwork and oozes cool. Yet for all his showmanship, his act is 50% mediocre Michael Jackson impression and 50% Prince tribute, complete with purple lighting and average guitar playing. He's not a patch on either of the 24k idols he so desperately apes - he's bronze at best.
Towards the end, he eventually cracks out some of the older tracks: Grenade, Runaway Baby, Marry You and Locked Out Of Heaven. Noticeably it's these that get the audience on their feet, Uptown Funk most of all. They're fun and frivolous, suitable for the decidedly mixed audience of both teenage girls and middle-aged women.
Mars does try and claw back some credibility with an impassioned rendition of When I Was Your Man, seemingly close to tears. But with sexy well and truly activated, it's impossible to take this sincerity seriously - you can't be the player and the victim all at once.