Bruno Mars returns to the Las Vegas Strip
Science has long been obsessed with “the groove,” or the pleasurable drive to move to music. Studies point to a sweet spot of perfect tension between rhythm, syncopation and harmony, found in every song that DJs count on to get crowds dancing hard.
Bruno Mars lives in that spot. At 33, he is a highly decorated force in popular music, stretching across genres and generations with a groove most find irresistible. And not just because of the Grammy-winning sound Mars and his Hooligans have crafted. These guys are full-on showmen, adding swag moves and humor to soaring vocals and clutch instrumentation. It goes back to Mars’ childhood in Hawaii, where he joined his family’s Las Vegas-style revue as a 4-year-old Elvis impersonator. It doesn’t get more destined-for-the-Strip than that.
Having slain mini-residencies and mega-shows here over the years, Mars returns April 29 to kick off an 11-date special engagement at Park MGM. It comes right on the Chuck Taylor heels of his 24K Magic World Tour, which huge demand spun into about 200 concerts over two years.
The shows inside Park Theater—in April, May and September—bring the superstar into a space much more intimate than the stadiums and arenas he sold out during the tour. Expect plenty of hits from his three studio albums and tastes of current collabs with rappers Gucci Mane (“Wake Up in the Sky”) and Cardi B (“Please Me”).
The latter track lovingly riffs on ’90s slow jams, layering Mars’ plaintive high notes and Cardi B’s cleverly naughty rhymes over saturated major chords. The artists’ first collaboration, a remix of 24K Magic single “Finesse,” just barely missed the top of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart in 2018. But a year later, “Please Me” reached No. 1 the first weekend in April, coinciding with Cardi B’s explosive debut at the Palms’ new dayclub/nightclub KAOS. With both stars holding down Las Vegas residencies in 2019, fans can only hope for crossover guest appearances.
Mars is already in good company at Park Theater, as the venue is featuring special productions by Aerosmith, Cher and Lady Gaga through the year.
Looking at his many dozens of awards and many millions of social-media followers, it’s hard to believe that he broke into the business as a songwriter creating hits for other artists. That gift is obvious as you run through his collection of soulful ballads, pop earworms and funky jams, but Mars was meant to command the spotlight.
At a massive Hong Kong show during his tour’s 2018 leg, he performed “Runaway Baby,” an old favorite from 2010 album Doo-Wops & Hooligans. He sang with unfailing strength while ripping through wild choreography at a tempo that can only be described as Tina Turner “Proud Mary” bananas. Mars teased the crowd about being quiet, then sampled Isley Brothers classic “Shout” until darkness consumed the stage. Thousands of fans stomped and screamed into the void—rewarded finally with a burst of lights, horns and footwork.
Bruno Mars has mad charisma, the kind that needs no costume changes or over-the-top sets. Like Las Vegas, he is simply built to entertain.
Park Theater, 9 p.m. April 29-30, May 3-4, Sept. 3-4, 7, 9-10 & 13-14, $171-$1,100 plus tax and fee. 844.600.727