United Center becomes exuberant planet Mars for one night

2013-07-14T09:45:00Z 2013-12-19T11:21:21Z United Center becomes exuberant planet Mars for one nightEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

The old adage of the entertainment "triple threat" surely applies to Bruno Mars but in even greater proportions.

The Atlantic recording artist, singer/songwriter can not only belt out the catchiest dance number and poignantly deliver a ballad but he's also a spitfire dancer and plays a mean guitar and drums.

Mars, with only two albums to his credit, is currently bringing his highly charged Moonshine Jungle Tour around the world and on Saturday landed his musical party at Chicago's United Center. He performed his 90-minute show to a full house. Fans in Mars' audience spanned the generations and cultures. From the sounds of the many screaming fans, Mars is also a heartthrob for the young set and a downright admirable all-around entertainer to older music fans.

The singer, whose recent album "Unorthodox Jukebox" took a spot in the Top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 when it was released, opened his show with "Moonshine" and then proceeded with the upbeat "Natalie."

Mars was in top form during his Chicago concert, never wavering in vocal ability or charisma. His show clearly had a retro-feel as he told fans he's a lover of Old School tunes. He infuses his performances with sleek and polished choreography and songs that definitely sound as though they've come from a different era.

When Mars takes his spot between his dancing band members and they all launch into smooth group moves, there's definitely a bit of a nod to Michael from J-Five days. But Mars' homage to pop and soul styles of yesteryear is in no way lackluster or trite. He's a performer with a fresh take on music and he's drawing fans in a big way these days.

Who would have thought the tiny tot performing as "Little Elvis" in 1994's comedy film "Honeymoon in Vegas" would be commanding quite an audience two decades later. (Mars, at 4 years old, was known as the youngest Elvis impersonator).

While the United Center concert saw Mars performing a number of songs from the latest album, he also delivered tunes from his debut CD "Doo-Wops & Hooligans." The first album brought Mars a number of hits while "Unorthodox Jukebox" is already turning out the chart toppers. It's likely almost all the songs from the latest album will get top radio play.

Highlighted tunes from Mars' concert were the magnetic "Treasure," (his latest radio hit); "Just the Way You Are;" "Marry You;" the reggae-inspired "Show Me;" "Young Girls;" "Money (That's What I Want)" and "Billionaire." Mars also gave a touching performance of "When I Was Your Man," which he said was the hardest song for him to sing and write.

His encore was the mega hit "Locked Out of Heaven" while "Gorilla" closed the show.

Opening for Mars was British singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding, who, unfortunately, appeared to be struggling through technical sound problems throughout her set.

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