Bruno Mars lives up to the hype

Maria Jorica Pamintuan - The Philippine Star
Bruno Mars lives up to the hype
One thing that got fans excited was Bruno’s subtle nod to his Filipino roots when he sang a portion of his song Calling All My Lovelies in Filipino. Sure, the lyrics were just ‘Miss na kita, mahal,’ but at least it’s a level above the standard ‘Mahal ko kayo, Manilaaaa!’
Photos from Smart Music Live and @livesmart

MANILA, Philippines — You know you have a problem when an A-list artist like Bruno Mars — who has performed before massive audiences all over the world — comments on the number of smartphones in the air during his concert.

Addressing the crowd at the fully-packed Mall of Asia Arena on May 3, the first night of the Manila leg of his 24K Magic World Tour, Bruno said, “I’ve never seen so many camera phones in one place.”

It seems that he noticed the number of phone cameras pointed in his direction because he was having trouble pumping up the audience, despite opening the show with two of his biggest and most danceable hits, Finesse and 24K Magic. 

He was so bothered that he even asked the crowd if they could put away their phones because it makes him sad to see his fans so preoccupied with filming him that they miss the opportunity to actually dance and enjoy the show.

His plea worked for about the length of a song (Treasure, a great upbeat, disco-funk tune), but pretty soon, thousands of arms were back in the air, phones in hand.

Bruno made another complaint later on during a lull in between songs. Surprised by the sudden silence during his performance of Runaway Baby, he said, “If y’all gonna be quiet tonight, we’re gonna be quiet, too.” He then proceeded to dance silently off the stage, driving fans to go crazy trying to woo him back.

I’m not sure if that was a skit that’s actually part of the concert, but regardless, Bruno really knows how to elicit a reaction from the crowd.

Now, the way I’m describing the audience may make it seem like everyone was just standing around blank-faced. They were standing around, yes (how else to get a steady and clear Insta-worthy post?), but they were definitely enjoying themselves and showing their appreciation.

The fact is that in general, Filipino audiences aren’t really the dancing type.

Instead, we show our appreciation and enthusiasm another way: By singing along with the artist. We know every single word of every single song and we sing loud enough to hear ourselves singing. Imagine a crowd of about 15,000 people belting their hearts out — it’s pretty impressive.

And that’s exactly what happened at the 24K Magic concert. Whenever Bruno was singing, he was basically leading a choir of devoted fans.

People especially enjoyed belting out his slower hits, When I Was Your Man, Versace on the Floor and Just the Way You Are. But the crowd could keep up with his faster-paced songs — That’s What I Like and Locked Out of Heaven — and even his lesser-known tracks like Chunky and Perm.

One thing that got fans excited was Bruno’s subtle nod to his Filipino roots when he sang a portion of his song Calling All My Lovelies in Filipino. Sure, the lyrics were just “Miss na kita, mahal,” but at least it’s a level above the standard “Mahal ko kayo, Manilaaaa!”

Bruno Mars’ grand return to the Philippines certainly lives up to the hype. The man is truly an excellent all-around performer. He’s a decent musician (he played the electric guitar during the show!), a good singer, and a great dancer.

His talent, coupled with amazing lights, fireworks, and confetti really made the concert one that will be hard to beat. The only complaint I have regards the stage: It could have been just a few inches higher, which would have given a lot of the (short) people in the standing area a better view.

For me, the best part of the show was the final song, Uptown Funk, and not just because it’s one of my all-time favorite Bruno hits. During the finale, it seemed that everyone was finally, finally giving in to Bruno’s request for them to dance. The crowd’s energy reached its crescendo in that moment, and once it was over, the lights came back on. People blinked, surprised that the show was already over when it felt like it had only just begun.

I suppose for a lot of people, especially those intent on recording the entire concert on their phone, the moment they put their gadget away was the moment they started really watching Bruno Mars in the flesh. So it’s little wonder those same people felt the show was cut too short.

The bottom line is, if you’re going to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a concert, you should actually watch the performance live, not through a smartphone screen.

So props to Bruno and his hooligans for an incredible performance and for reminding concertgoers that live shows are best enjoyed in the moment, not through a recording.

(Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic Tour is a Smart Music Live summer concert event. Binge watch on Bruno Mars videos via #FreeYouTubeEveryDay for Smart subscribers.)

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