Monday, December 17, 2012

Bruno Mars Celebrates 'Unorthodox Jukebox' Release in NYC

by Jennifer Boyer 

Peter Gene Hernández, known to most as Bruno Mars, celebrated the release of his sophomore studio release Unorthodox Jukebox last Tuesday night with a short but sweet gig at New York City’s iHeart Radio Theater. Fresh off pulling double duty as host and musical guest at Saturday Night Live in October, Mars kicked off his 45-minute set with new single “Locked Out of Heaven.” Admittedly his attempt at writing a song resembling The Police, the singer-songwriter incorporated full band choreography, allowing his backing musicians to display an impressive aptitude for playing their instruments while dancing along with their leader.

“New York City! Welcome to the house party,” announced Mars. “We been working hard and the album is finally out. You know what that means? We can try out our new songs on y'all.” And that they did. With a horn section comprised of trombone, alto saxophone and trumpet, the Hawaiian-born singer tested out “Treasure” before allowing the steel drums of “Show Me” to transport everybody from the blustery Manhattan weather to the tropics of Jamaica. An attempt to write a Bob Marley song? I’d put money on it. 

“Marry You” featured wedding chimes as Mars employed an electric guitar, proving his skills don’t end at writing, producing and singing. “I don't know what you said, but it sounded cool as shit,” quipped Mars as female fans competed for his attention. “Young Girls” slowed the evening’s pace as the piano ballad gave Mars ample room to showcase his belting agility with perfectly-on-pitch vocals. Drenched in reverb, the singer’s notes resonated around the small room, creating an arena-like atmosphere.

“I think your team is sexy, Bruno. Who says that?” joked Mars, repeating an admirer’s sultry shout-out. “I work so hard to be the lead singer and you're gonna complement the team?” A third musical influence in the songwriter’s own material came across crystal clear in “Runaway Baby,” which brought out the James Brown in all of us. “We've been off tour for awhile,” admitted an out-of-breath and sweaty Mars. Though appearing in top physical form, the 27-year-old gave his bandmates (and himself) a breather as they let the holiday spirit take over with “White Christmas.”

“Can we do one more?” inquired Mars. “If you are here with that special someone, I want you to look that person in the eyes and say...” Say what, you want to know? Well, let’s just say that Mars mouthed the words: “You're a bitch.” He was kidding, of course! Laughing at his own jocularity, the singer began to close out his set with “Just The Way You Are.”

Before disappearing backstage, Mars introduced “The Team” as his band was lovingly coined that night. For those who don’t know, Mars is one third of The Smeezingtons, a trio of producers/writers consisting of Mars, Ari Levine and Philip Lawrence. The latter of the three also happens to be, according to Mars, “My partner in crime” and primary background singer. Must be a solid working relationship because both “Locked Out of Heaven” and Unorthodox Jukebox hold the much-desired top spots on the iTunes charts; No. 1 Song and No. 1 Album, respectively. Not bad, guys. Not bad at all. 

Bruno Mars "Grenade" iHeartRadio Theater

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