Bruno Mars, he tells us, is going to let us in on an “old-school R’n’B secret”.
Bruno Mars - Glasgow Hydro
* * *
It doesn’t take much imagining – just wait until your backing band have dampened the volume to a suitable level that your half-whispered “damn” is the loudest thing the audience hears. It works audibly upon most of the women, although perhaps only for one man in the hall.
This tension between respectfully recreating the classic soul effect and playing to the necessities for a handsome male pop star launched amidst the X-Factor generation is key to Bruno Mars’ live set, and it was one played to creditably well-pitched effect. Most notably, he and his band seemed to be treading the line between old-fashioned soul revue, dressed uniformly as if they were 1970s street hustlers, and arena-filling boy band, dry-humping the stage through the overblown slow jam of Nothin’ On You.
The sextet, Mars included, showed off some impressive synchronised moves throughout, although it became hard to imagine exactly how one could play trumpet or guitar while busting such furious moves. Yet it was a show which accentuated well thought-out and often original fun over going through the motions, with the fedora-wearing Mars impersonating a light-footed Michael Jackson during the slow groove Our First Time, James Brown and the JBs during a fiery funk Runaway Baby and, yes, the least inspiring X-Factor balladeer on the try-hard Just the Way You Are. Proof that you can please most of the people most of the time, at least.