Finishing tour strong a mission to Mars
There are many, many people worse than Bruno Mars who could have a vise grip on the pop charts right now. The “Just the Way You Are’’ singer spent Tuesday night at the Paradise proving it. Actually, that’s not true. He spent about 15 minutes proving it and the next hour of the sold-out show hammering the point home with a sharp five-piece band.
Although it was Mars’s Boston debut, it was the last night of his tour, as evidenced by the giant neon sign that would have spelled out the name of his album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,’’ if only all the letters still worked. But the fatigued scenery didn’t matter once Mars appeared (after party-starting Atlanta rapper Donnis kicked things off) and banged out a hot-jam rhythm workout on drums, as if to send notice right from the start that he meant business.
Beaming throughout, with a fedora cocked just so, Mars came across like a Timberlake-in-waiting, and his songs were marked by both optimism and enthusiasm. The easy ska of “Billionaire,’’ the hit he co-wrote with Travie McCoy, would suit Lily Allen, but she would never allow the aspirational fantasy to remain so unsullied. And his love songs weren’t entreaties so much as celebrations, whether it was the bright and shiny “Marry You’’ or the sensual reggae of “Our First Time.’’
Mars also recognized that he’s not the first person in pop music history to come up with his ideas, preceding “Billionaire’’ and “Runaway Baby’’ with snippets of “Money (That’s What I Want)’’ and Del Shannon’s “Runaway,’’ respectively. Better still was a mash-up of “Smells Like Teen Spirit’’ and “Billie Jean,’’ which merged astonishingly well, capturing the fury of the former and the paranoia of the latter.
If there was a misstep, it came during ukulele number “Count on Me,’’ which was a little too obvious and simplistic (not to mention Mrazzy). By that point, 40 minutes into the show, Mars had already proven that he was far better than that. But he didn’t hit No. 1 by not knowing what sells.
Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com.