Bruno Mars has the magic
All concert tours lead to Las Vegas for Bruno Mars. The singer began touring in support of his latest album 24K Magic shortly after its release in October 2016, and has been on the road most of the time ever since. He’s performed at concerts, festivals and awards shows in Vegas no less than 25 times since 2011, and will mark his fourth New Year’s Eve in five years on the Strip when he plays the Dec. 30-31 shows of his ongoing residency at Park Theater at Monte Carlo. Mars, arguably pop music’s most consummate showman, is at the top of the pack in the Entertainment Capitol of the World.
Many of Mars’ influences have been Vegas headliners. He picked up attitude and a penchant for fedoras from Sinatra. He likes to heighten the enthusiasm of audiences to the level Elvis Presley once generated. He’s a dancing machine on par with Michael Jackson, and can pack it all into one compact dynamic package like Sammy Davis Jr. once did. And he does it all in front of a live band featuring his brother Eric Hernandez on drums and pristine live harmonies courtesy of backup singers/dancers the Hooligans.
It’s as if he was predestined to ascend to stardom. He definitely had talent in his DNA, thanks to a percussionist father and a professional dancer mother. His Elvis-impersonator uncle taught young Peter Hernandez to sing like the King, and young “Bruno” was brought out onstage as a primary-school-age Presley. His act made it to the big screen when he was cast in 1992 comedy film Honeymoon in Vegas, but stardom would elude him for years. A move to L.A. came first, followed by years of struggle with the music business and his own musical identity.
He chose an interplanetary surname to follow a childhood nickname as he decided to reach for the stars on his own terms, and not get pigeonholed in a particular style or genre. After making his mark as a featured vocalist on B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire,” he released his own debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans. Mars topped the charts with “Just the Way You Are” and “Grenade,” then stretched out further stylistically with 2012’s Unorthodox Jukebox. More No. 1s would follow, but it was his guest turn on Mark Ronson’s 2015 monster hit “Uptown Funk” that reached the most ears.
Mars’ appeal is near universal, his showmanship appreciated from the youngest to oldest generations. He won seven American Music Awards in November, including Favorite Artist of the Year and Favorite Album Pop/Rock for 24K Magic, but it was his Nov. 29 television special Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at The Apollo that placed him in a class among his heroes such as Jackson and James Brown. Recorded at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, it’s likely to stand as a testament to Mars’ performing prowess in his prime, much like his Vegas shows indicate how far to the top he’s climbed. And he’s only climbing higher.
Park Theater at Monte Carlo, 9 p.m. Dec. 30-31, $91.28-$458.72 plus tax and fee. 844.600.7275