Bruno Mars - US Airways Center - 7/31/13 (VIDEO)

Bruno Mars, US Airways Center, July 31, 2013

It's so cool to see the American dream in action. Last night at US Airways Center, Bruno Mars played to a sold-out crowd at US Airways Center for his Moonshine Jungle Tour. About 20 years ago, he was a child performer in his dad's Hawaiian tribute band, playing a little Elvis. Attendees who thought, "That kid will be famous one day," were totally right. If only the audience could have heard him crystal clearly.

Like his previous Valley performances, Mars brought his performance entourage, including his The Smeezingtons songwriting partner Philip Lawrence to back him up. There were nine men on stage, all musicians, including a horn section and backup singers. I thought a set of sexy female backup dancers would have been dynamite for Mars, but like his past performances at Comerica Theatre and Martini Ranch, Mars focused on the vocals and the hip thrusts. Oh, the hip thrusts -- there were plenty of them to keep the ladies in the audience squealing with delight.

Sadly, just like his opener Ellie Goulding, Mars' vocals were barely audible most of the time. The last portion of his show, where he powered through hits "When I Was Your Man," "Grenade" and "Just the Way You Are," showcased his vocals the most. For the remainder of the concert, though, it was hard to hear what Mars was singing, though the musicianship was top-notch.

I almost wished he was in a smaller venue, again; instead of what Mars was singing, there seemed to be more of a focus here on the interactions of the nine-person team dancing around on stage. If his vocals had just been turned up, the show would have been 10 times better.

There was surprisingly little spectacle to support Mars, other than the great encore "Gorilla," where green lights emitted from the stage, confetti continued falling from the previous song, "Locked Out of Heaven," and fireworks blasted from the stage. I wish the whole show had been like this.

For an arena show, while Mars and his team of performers were engaging on stage, I felt like the arena venue lent itself to a flashier set. Even those hottie lady dancers would have jazzed up the show. I thought, beyond Mars' intense vocal talent, the rest of it wasn't noteworthy. Despite a giant screen behind the performers, nothing much really happened beyond swaying around on the stage. Crowd banter was kept to a minimum, too.

For more notes, the complete setlist, and video, jump to Page 2.

Stranger still, Mars didn't even play piano. He did play electric guitar and drums, but he never sat down at the instrument so heavily featured in some of his biggest hits, such as "Just the Way You Are."

Like Lady Gaga, a Bruno Mars tour with just the man and a piano would be amazing. Please, Bruno--do it.

While the concert was short of spectacle, Mars sounded good when you could hear him. And his hip thrusting definitely make an impact.

Personal Bias: How can you not think Mars is adorable?
The Crowd: Mostly hot ladies in their 20s. The crowd was surprisingly diverse, though -- there were kids, boyfriends, moms -- just about any demographic loves Mars.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I'm so glad he played 'Marry Me!'"
Random Notebook Dump: My friend and I were really sad Mars didn't play "Young Girls." Also, while Goulding's performance was bare bones, consisting just of dancing and soft singing on her part, her tunes are really catchy and got the crowd out of their seats and moving.
Money (That's What I Want)/ Billionaire
Show Me
Our First Time
Pony (Ginuwine cover)
Marry You
If I Knew
Runaway Baby
Nothin' on You
When I Was Your Man
Just the Way You Are
Locked Out of Heaven

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