Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae's Heartbreaks and Hooligans Tour finally made its way to Hollywood. Playing at the Gibson Amphitheater next door to Universal Studios Hollywood, the two rising superstars enthralled a sold-out crowd with what I am calling the best concert of the year for me. And that is saying a lot considering I saw Prince four times this year.
What I loved so much about this concert was the sheer joy of performing that each performer exuded during their sets. Their respective bands played a big role in creating this vibe, and each singer played well off their bands. Plus, HORNS! Horns automatically make things fun. Also contributing to the "Best Show Ever!" feel was the fact that I knew every single song in Bruno's set, and they're all really good songs. The man is a hit-maker, plain and simple.
Show opener Mayer Hawthorne brought a throwback soul vibe with toe-tapping tunes, and his mashup of his own "Dreaming" with Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True" got people grooving in their seats.
"Dreaming/You Make My Dreams Come True":
Janelle's set was a bit more artsy than, well, anyone I've seen lately, but she doesn't skimp on the energy, that's for sure. She is one HELL of a performer. She busted out some James Brown dancing (as did Bruno), drew a painting while singing (at first I was like what in the heck is she painting, and then all of a sudden it was like ohhhhh ... this actually looks like something), sang a beautiful stripped-down cover of "Smile" and tackled the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" with Michael-like vocals. Her closing song, the "Rock Lobster"-sounding "Come Alive (The War Of The Roses)" is just insane. She spent a good majority of the song out in the crowd and literally scared the crap out of the front row (and earlier the entire venue with a blood-curling scream right into the microphone), and ended the performance with a piggy-back ride up a side aisle to a loge exit.
"I Want You Back":
Bruno's set, as I said earlier, was full of hit songs and hooky tunes. And a buttery, soulful voice to die for. He has a vast array of varying songs that can appeal to all different kinds of people. There's pure pop ("Just The Way You Are"), throwback R&B ("Runaway Baby"), slow jams ("Our First Time"), reggae ("Liquor Store Blues"), Island ("Lazy Song"). He brought out his rocker side during "Billionaire"/"Money" and "The Other Side". And he married rock, pop and even Mariachi during a particularly epic "Grenade". I can't say enough about Bruno as an entertainer, singer, songwriter and musician. Basically, he is the shit.
Nothin' On You:
Liquor Store Blues:
Somewhere In Brooklyn/Talking To The Moon (Encore):
And here are a couple of videos from my friend ocamy24:
Marry You/Lazy Song (the banter between Bruno and Phil Smeeze about Phil's line in Lazy Song is quite hilarious):
Our First Time:
Top Of The World: