Bruno Mars Rocks at the Grove

At 5:30pm on a Friday afternoon, you’d expect The Grove to be busy. But there was a good reason for the masses to be packed into the roadway near the fountain last Friday in particular, as rising R&B star [lastfm]Bruno Mars[/lastfm] took center stage for a free concert.

Kicking off with “The Other Side,” Mars treated the screaming throngs of fans to a 45-minute set, including some great surprises. Not only did Mars sing stripped down, verse-free versions of “Nothin’ On You” and “Billionaire,” but he and his band broke out no less than four covers. They used “Money (That’s What I Want)” by [lastfm]Barrett Strong[/lastfm] (and made famous by [lastfm]The Beatles[/lastfm]) to segue into “Billionaire,” and later rocked through a verse of the [lastfm]White Stripes[/lastfm]’ “Seven Nation Army.”

But one of the highlights of the show had to be the seamless mashup of the music to [lastfm]Nirvana[/lastfm]’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and [lastfm]Michael Jackson[/lastfm]’s “Billie Jean.” No, we’re not kidding:

Along with his trademark vocals and strong guitar work, what Mars brought to the stage last Friday was a sense of fun. It’s clear when watching him perform that he really, really loves what he’s doing, be it riffing off of his backing band or interacting with a rapt audience. He might have first gotten his big break by singing hooks on other people’s song, but with performances like this, it’s obvious the 23-year old has arrived as a solo artist in his own right.

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1. The Other Side
2. Top of the World
3. Somewhere in Brooklyn
4. Money/Billionaire
5. Grenade
6. Smells Like Billie Jean/Seven Nation Army
7. Nothin’ On You
8. Just the Way You Are


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