NEWARK, New Jersey—Imagine my excitement when my friend Tina Liu called to say she scored two VIP tickets to the Bruno Mars concert at the Prudential Center here.
So there we were, seated in the front orchestra, about 20 feet away from the stage. We arrived on time and thoroughly enjoyed British songwriter Ellie Goulding’s folksy singing style. That’s just the opening act.
At 8 p.m., the crew set the stage for the Hawaii-born Filipino Puerto Rican (or should it be Puerto Rican Filipino?) superstar.
An hour later, Bruno Mars was introduced, and the fans jumped to their feet, screaming to welcome the Grammy Award-winning singer. He wore a Dolce & Gabbana suit in fiery red matched with a leopard print shirt. But wait. So did members of his band, the Hooligans.
I find this odd, admirable even, for a rock star like the Bruno not to mind looking like everyone else.
The opening number “Moonshine,” from his new album “Unorthodox Jukebox,” was greeted with thunderous applause from the 15,000-plus crowd. By the time the second and third songs came, I noticed that no one was sitting down.
I figured maybe Bruno’s ballads would calm people enough to settle down. I was wrong. Everyone was practically standing the whole time. This was a two-hour concert and standing the entire duration has never crossed my mind. It seemed like the energy on stage has rippled through the audience.
In this concert, dubbed “Moonshine Jungle World Tour,” the singer took us to the ’70s-themed music of Michael Jackson; Kool and the Gang; and Earth, Wind and Fire, etc., complete with moonwalks, fancy choreography, vintage posters and trumpets. Bruno wore his hair Afro style while singing Jackson 5 hits.
His vocals were powerful and groovy as he sang his eclectic hits “Grenade,” “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Billionaire” and “When I Was Your Man.” The crowd sang along. He played the guitar, beat the drums and moved from one end of the stage to another. But what made the women shriek were his very sexy dance movements.
You couldn’t tell there was a loss in his family. Bruno was still mourning the death of his Filipino mother. Bernadette
Hernandez died of brain aneurysm in Honolulu on June 2, or just three weeks before his concert.
“I’ll be back on my feet again soon,” he tweeted days before the gig. “That’s what mom wants.” And that’s what he delivered.