'Bright Filipino lights': Bruno Mars brings fun back to the Philippines

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
'Bright Filipino lights': Bruno Mars brings fun back to the Philippines
Bruno Mars performing at the Philippine Arena
Philstar.com / Kristofer Purnell

MANILA, Philippines — Show time! Guess who's back again?

It's taken five years, but Filipino-American multiple Grammy winner Bruno Mars finally returned to the Philippines to perform some of his most beloved hits across the years.

For his fourth-ever concert in the country, his last one being at the Mall of Asia Arena for his "24K Magic" tour in 2018, Bruno turned the Philippine Arena in Bulacan into a festive experience that wowed both eyes and ears.

The concert took a while to begin — a representative from Live Nation Philippines told Philstar.com that delays were caused by attendees caught in traffic — but soon enough, the huge white cloth bearing Bruno's name dropped onto the stage to reveal the singer himself and his band the Hooligans, kicking things off with "24K Magic."

"What's up, okay ba kayo?!" Bruno said after the song. "You look beautiful, Philippines... we love this place so much. And we hope we can get this audience singing and dancing all night."

Bruno encouraged the crowd to put their phones down so they could jive, especially as he performed "Finesse" — even dancing his iconic choreography from the 2018 Grammy Awards where he won six trophies, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Prior to performing "Treasure," Bruno introduced each member of the Hooligans, then took a guitar to perform a portion of "Liquor Store Blues" from his debut album "Doo-Wops & Hooligans."

While on the guitar, he transitioned from "Liquor Store Blues" to "Billionaire" where he even changed lyrics in the refrain to "smiling next to Oprah and the Philippines," "I see my name in bright Filipino lights" and "when we're all billionaires" all while the crowd chanted his name.

Related: 'Good news, Hooligans!': Bruno Mars adds 2nd Manila show

The Hooligans led the performance of "Calling All My Lovelies," where he exchanged his guitar for a golden phone to "talk" into.

"Hey, I'm in the Philippines right now. It's been what, four to five years, but I still feel the same about you. Miss na kita, mahal," Bruno teased on the phone before transitioning to portions of "Wake Up In The Sky" and "That's What I Like." Shortly after, he threw his towel into the crowd.

"Come on, I know we sexier than that!" Bruno yelled before performing "Please Me" where he belted "Philippines" at the end.

Two members of the Hooligans performed guitar and saxophone solos while Bruno changed clothes in order to put on a fresh and sweet performance of "Versace on the Floor."

Bruno again recalled the success of "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," which skyrocketed his popularity. It was evident in his fun performance of "Marry Me," which had the audience waving even more happily than they did during "Treasure." He also mouthed to the audience, "You're beautiful," numerous times afterwards.

His brother Eric did a drum solo to kick off "Runaway Baby," a segment where Bruno had a little fun with the crowd by testing how loud they could get.

"If ya'll gonna be quiet, we'll be quiet too... I think they think we're bulls***ting," Bruno teased, as the band quieted and Bruno danced beneath a blue spotlight. Everyone on stage eventually relented to the cheers, especially as Bruno took out and sang on a golden megaphone.

Related: 'Renaissance,' 'Midnights,' 'Hold Me Closer': The music of 2022

"Masaya ba kayo?!" Bruno asked, before proceeding to the keyboard for a medley of hits he worked on: "F**k You" by CeeLo Green, "Young, Wild & Free" by Wiz Khalifa, "Grenade" where he asked for more dramatic smoke, "Talking to the Moon," "Nothin' On You" by B.o.B., and Silk Sonic's "Leave the Door Open."

Bruno said "Nothin' On You" contained four chords that changed his life, and he teased during "Leave the Door Open" when he shared a fantasy about Filipino girls calling out that they were coming for him.

The crowd chanted his name once more just as Bruno introduced "When I Was Your Man" as the hardest song he had ever written and performed.

A Hooligan took charge of the keyboard while Bruno changed his top yet again, and the artist came out lively as ever for "Locked Out of Heaven."

Bruno then dedicated an energetic rendition of "Just The Way You Are" to the Philippine Arena crowd, who joyously sang the final chorus when the arena lights went up.

"Mahal kita!" Bruno exclaimed before calling the Hooligans and exiting the stage, only to come out again one last time to end the night with "Uptown Funk."

For some, the night flew by in a snap, but many will agree that Bruno's return was, as he promised, #blessed and dripping in finesse.

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