Bruno Mars Makes XXIV Magic at the Spark Arena

Bruno Mars – Spark Arena, February 27 2018.

In just a few short weeks, Spark Arena featured some exceptional shows from Macklemore, Robbie Williams and Queen + Adam Lambert. One cannot help but ask how eleven times Grammy award winner Bruno Mars will compare? The answer is not an easy one because each artist is unique but Peter Gene Hernandez, or better known as Bruno Mars, did not disappoint.  A special kind of magic was unmistakable in the way Mars made everyone feel during his 24K Magic concert.

This review is for the first of four sold out shows in Auckland, NZ so no major spoilers here!

YouTube sensation turned Brit Award winner, Dua Lipa, kicked off the night by making everyone feel Hotter Than Hell. Dressed in a yellow baggy track suit with white stripes, Dua Lipa, effortlessly got the audience dancing with her youthful energy and cute infectious pop songs from her self titled album. Be the One, IDGAF and New Rules were clear favourites. Unfortunately, I felt Lipa’s voice was often muddied by the backing vocal tracks and bass. This sadly did not allow one to truly appreciate the range of her vocal abilities.

After Lipa’s opening set, the crowd noticeably wanted to party some more. While the stage was prepared, classic party tracks (that were meant to be background music) like Return of the Mack and Jump by House of Pain, got the crowd going with their hands up and waving to the beat.

After a longer wait than usual, curtains that surrounded the box shaped stage lifted up and a night of magical memories began. At first, the stage felt quite plain and too big for Mars and his posse to fill. But, don’t let this fool you because a combination of fireworks, complex lighting arrangements and visual effects will transform the stage into a dazzling array of shapes and textures.

One of the highlights of the show was the perfectly choreographed dance arrangements of Mars’ band, The Hooligans. Mars’ love for James Brown and the footwork of the soul era was very apparent. When he started to move and groove, one could clearly see that Mars was a born entertainer fulfilling a dream to bring joy and happiness to all around him.

The Hooligans showed that they were exceptional musicians who easily switched from funk, doo-wop, rock to soul and more. Solo pieces during the show allowed the band to enjoy a bit of the spotlight. The piano solo by John Fossit and the drum solo by Mars’ brother, Eric Hernandez, were outstanding.

Halfway through the set, it became obvious that the sequence of songs from this particular show differed from the 24K Magic concerts of 2017. But don’t worry, the classics and popular hits from Mars’ latest album were all performed magnificently, interwoven with little surprises here and there.

Mars’ vocal delivery was on point with charm and a special blend of bravado. It was truly spectacular to see him touch everyone in the packed arena with ballads like When I Was Your Man to dance anthems like Locked Out of Heaven. And, if you look closer, you might see Prince, Michael Jackson, Sly Stone and other great artists beaming from Mars’ on-stage persona and the songs he readily sings at the top of his voice. Now that’s truly a special kind of magic.

Reuben Raj