At first, Joe Jonas’ vehicle for maintaining his presence in the industry, DNCE, seems like an odd opening act for the undisputed current king of cool. However, it quickly starts to make sense as they attempt to wrangle up a disinterested crowd – they couldn’t be showing up Bruno now, could they?
Aesthetically, it’s a confused display – while Jonas bandmates are awash with colour, he sports a check suit and Converse (perhaps in an effort to single himself out?) Bad call – Kissing Strangers is very obviously tracked, to make up for Jonas’ consistently poor vocals. Naked features an enjoyable but brief Rae Sremmurd interloop. However, it quickly unravels – their performance of DNCE can only be described as “all over the place”.
Body Moves – one of the better hits from their back catalogue – also suffers. There’s a few bizarre covers thrown in, from Spice Girls to The White Stripes (standard). Cake By The Ocean injects some life back into proceedings, but it’s too little, too late.
You can’t really go wrong with Sister Sledge then, can you? Having a back-catalogue of guaranteed bangers helps. A triple threat of Everybody Dance, Frankie and Greatest Dancer prove why they’re highly regarded as a veteran act. There’s some – albeit limited – choreography to pave the way for Bruno, with Dave Sledge (of the family Sledge) giving it loads on stage. Lost In Music leaves the audience suitably simmering for the man of the hour.
Bruno Mars had some difficulty with his pyrotechnics during some earlier stops on The 24k Magic Tour. It seems to be all resolved for Marlay Park, as fireworks light up the sky between every second song. It sets the precedent for what could be the show of 2018, (it couldn’t be more aptly named). Mars makes being a performer look effortless – there’s a stunning fluidity to his tracks and his voice never falters. He doesn’t need Cardi B for Finesse, he can pop his own collar.
For an album that came out two years ago, the material is as fresh as ever. Chunky is a set highlight (though girls with “big ol’ hoops” mean something else over here, Bruno). Perm is a firecracker performance, featuring some spell-binding solo choreography. He’s on the guitar for Calling All My Lovelies, once again, looking like he rolled out of bed able to play the instrument. It’s rare, in this age, to see people who provide substance with style. Versace On The Floor – the ultimate millennial slow jam – is a surprising vocal assault.
Mars is as close to a male Beyoncé as we’ll ever get (though no one will ever be in her league). His performance at Marlay proves him to be the jack of all trades he hypes himself up to be on the album. And yet, with all that confidence, he still manages to be pretty damn likeable. None of the bit parts feel like bit parts – Mars has succeeded in producing a show that is impressively cohesive and consistently fun throughout. This could be a greatest hits tour, and it’s only his third album! Let’s hope there’s much more to give back in the Mars vault, because the world needs more shows like this.