Bruno Mars stopped about halfway through his Barclays Center show to deliver what he called "R&B 101."
He instructed his impressive eight-piece band, all in matching red suits like his, to deliver a James Brown-like breakdown, before he offered a dramatic pause and screamed, "Damn!" to the delight of the roaring capacity crowd Saturday night.
It was part of a bit, but the music world would be a much better place if Mars' entire 90-minute show was seen as "R&B 101" or even "Concerts 101."
Mars' Moonshine Jungle Tour, his first since graduating to arena headliner, is sleek and well-choreographed, with everything from the elegant staging that lifted him up to deliver a raucous version of Ginuwine's "Pony" to the snippets of Prince's "Purple Rain" guitar solo that toughened up "Marry You" falling into place at exactly the right time.
Mars and his band The Hooligans made the intricate dance moves in his glorious disco-funk anthem "Treasure" look easy and the Smokey Robinson-styled breakdown added to "Just the Way You Are" feel natural.
However, Mars is at his best when he reveals his emotions.
He called his smash ballad "When I Was Your Man" "the hardest song I've ever written and the hardest song for me to sing," before turning in a passionate version. And his throwback soul number "If I Knew," which he mixed with his "Twilight" ballad "It Will Rain," was stunning.
Those songs showed that as good as this current tour is, Mars can get even better.
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SETLIST: Moonshine / Natalie / Treasure / Money (That’s What I Want) > Billionaire / Show Me > Pony > Candy Rain / Marry You / If I Knew > It Will Rain / Runaway Baby / Young Girls / When I Was Your Man / Grenade / Just the Way You Are // ENCORE: Locked Out Of Heaven / Gorilla