red lights

Concert Livewire
basement tapes concert reviews cd reviews interviewsticket swap music news

A cross-cultural artist for the ages and an
unpolished newcomer with underlying promise

Bruno Mars / Ellie Goulding
United Center
Chicago, IL
July 12, 2013
Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars
Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding
Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars

Reviewby Andy Argyrakis
Publicity Photos

Very few, if any, post millennial artists have been able to secure the cross-cultural appeal of say Michael Jackson or Prince, but Bruno Mars has come pretty close thanks to his all around star power. The 27-year-old singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist/dancer has somehow managed to capture the hearts of hipsters, kids, their parents and pretty much everyone in between thanks to his independent mindset, seamless genre blurring throughout R&B, pop and rock, coupled with sheer old school showmanship that would even make Elvis Presley proud.

At a sold out United Center (certainly an impressive feat for a relative newcomer with only two albums and a handful of collaborations under his belt), practically every walk of life was represented in the audience and Mars pretty much met everyone right where they were at. For those into the '80s (either the first time around or the ongoing revival) he grooved through "Moonshine" and "Treasure," tossed in plenty of retro soul reminders via "Natalie" and "If I Knew" and even demonstrated dynamic vocal range and tender sentimentality throughout the piano ballad "When I Was Your Man."

Somehow the multi-talent and his eight member entourage managed to make the melding appear absolutely seamless throughout "The Moonshine Jungle World Tour" and it didn't hurt that the floor to ceiling show provided constant visual stimulation. All the token smoke, screens, lasers and occasional explosions on a set not too far removed from a vintage "Soul Train" episode helped accentuate the mouth-watering grooves, while a ridiculously large and gaudy disco ball suggested Mars didn't take himself too seriously, even if he was consistently spectacular.

While there was barely a lull in the 100-minute night split pretty evenly between 2010's "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" and last year's "Unorthodox Jukebox" (both on Atlantic), the last 20 minutes served up a delectable dance party with one crescendo after the next. The galloping "Grenade" flowed directly into the empowerment anthem "Just The Way You Are" and reached the next level of euphoria with "Locked Out Of Heaven" in the encore. Considering he's just three years into his career, there's no telling just how far Mars' star will continue to ascend, though he's clearly one of the elite minority who actually shows the potential to stick around for the ages.

Adding extra appeal to the festivities on paper was 26-year-old Ellie Goulding, though with sound problems and obvious frustration plaguing the first half of her 45-minute warm up, it's going to take some time before she can command a venue this size on her own. While she certainly lacked polish, there's no ignoring the smash success of her sophomore collection "Halcyon" (Interscope), which finds the English singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist dialed into today's indie/synth/folk pop trends with true originality. On stage, her quirkily quivering vocals and heartfelt writing made the strongest cases during "Don't Say A Word" and "Figure 8," while the throbbing pulsations of "Lights" and "I Need Your Love" closed out the somewhat rocky ride with a clubbed up bang.

What Do You Think?



City & State:

e mail:

Here's Your Chance to.... Respond!

Your feedback will be featured on
Rant or Rave within 24 hours.

Return to Reviews
Return to Menu