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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

July 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Bruno Mars thrills KeyArena crowd

Bruno Mars ( Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Bruno Mars ( Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Note: Two song titles have been corrected in this updated review.Bruno Mars may have been the sexiest man in Seattle Sunday night.In a 90-minute show at KeyArena, the handsome, Hawaiian-born pop star with the infectious grin and silky dance moves thrilled a capacity crowd with a hyperkinetic fusion of rock, pop, funk, R&B, soul, reggae, doo-wop and hip-hop. Dressed in slacks, shirt, vest and a sharp-looking fedora, Mars seemed to personify several generations of music icons, from Elvis Presley and James Brown to Prince and Michael Jackson.

The “Moonshine Jungle World Tour,” a trek of sold-out shows launched after the multiplatinum success of Mars’ 2012 sophomore album, “Unorthodox Jukebox,” is one of the summer’s hottest tours, drawing multigenerational audiences captivated by Mars’ sexy, sultry anthems — from the plaintive, regret-filled “When I Was Your Man” to the explicit “Gorilla.”

Mars was introduced to the audience via video by the curious emcee and YouTube sensation Sir Napeson Hyman III who looked like a shriveled apple-head doll.

Mars and his good-natured, seven-piece band, the Hooligans (featuring several horn players), exploded into action at 9 p.m., blending songs from “Unorthodox Jukebox” and Mars’ debut album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” as well as a few carefully selected cover songs.

The lavish production featured two giant video screens, blinding pyrotechnics and surreal, eye-popping graphics that brought Disney-like visuals to the musical extravaganza. And in addition to his soulful crooning, Mars demonstrated his talents as a guitarist and drummer.

Growing up in his family’s Honolulu-based band, which featured Mars (at age 4) as a pint-size Elvis Presley impersonator, the 27-year-old singer and musician understands the value of being a solid entertainer. Mars played to the crowd, appealing to fans of several generations, from preteens to middle-aged adults.

Mars’ family band background has also influenced his repertoire — a real-life “unorthodox jukebox.” He is both modern and retro, a compelling combination that makes him musically irresistible to those who grew up loving a variety of musical styles from different eras.

The set featured “Money (That’s What I Want,” “Billionaire,” “Marry You,” “Runaway Baby,” “Just the Way You Are” and B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You.” The funky and muscular “Treasure” was one of several songs featuring a giant mirrored disco ball.

Mars flirted with a female fan, as surely he does in every city, and demonstrated the seductive power of the word “damn” when carefully inserted into a sentence.

Mars closed his show with a double encore featuring a confetti-strewn, horn-laden “Locked Out of Heaven” and an explosive, pyro-enhanced “Gorilla.”

Opening Mars’ concert was buoyant English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, who performed such songs as “Anything Could Happen,” “I Need Your Love” and the dance-pop hit “Lights,” the title song of her 2011 debut album.

0 Comments | More in R & B/Hip-hop, Rock/Pop | Topics: Bruno Mars, Key Arena

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