Super Bowl Review: Bruno Mars’ Flashy Halftime Blends Old School Showmanship

Super Bowl Review: Bruno Mars' Flashy

Unless you were born with the first name “Prince,” there’s really only so much a performer can do with the Super Bowl halftime show slot, and Bruno Mars did plenty with his. Though it lacked the Olympian heft of Beyonce’s stand last year, or the sheer spectacle and requisite FCC-trolling of Madonna’s pageantry the year previous, Mars relied on a lot of flash, a hefty dose of Famous Flames-style stagecraft, and a requisite hat tip to the military for a winningly unprepossessing performance.

Running through four proper songs in 14 minutes while still leaving time for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to stage a pleasantly brief “Give It Away” cameo, a sparkly-suited Mars kicked off proceedings with a splashy drum solo good enough to attract some wildly overblown Ginger Baker comparisons from Fox commentators.

Though best known for the sort of four-quadrant pop radio hits that often give the short-shrift to his songwriting, Mars’ live act has always been more about old school showmanship, and his rapid-fire medley of “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure” and “Runaway Baby” saw him draw straight from the chitlin’ circuit playbook several times. Whether locking in with his backing band for some loosely coordinated routines, doing the splits or going full-on Ronald Isley, Mars frequently played older than his baby-faced 28-year-old visage would have suggested.

The Chili Peppers (whose booking was allegedly a sop to “older” viewers, inspiring this 31-year-old writer to start suddenly worrying about his 401k) maintained the energy level upon their entrance, with Anthony Kiedis and Flea going shirtless in the New Jersey cold, and drummer Chad Smith wisely opting for a knit cap. Superimposing footage of overhead fireworks over Mars singing centerfield perhaps pushed the broadcast into cheesiness during the set-closing “Just the Way You Are,” but Mars acquitted himself admirably throughout.

Prior to kickoff, Queen Latifah was joined by the New Jersey Youth Choir for a faithful if unremarkable run through “America the Beautiful,” and famed soprano Renee Fleming predictably nailed a climactic glory note at the end of her rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

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    1. Atomicsynth says:

      atomicsynth
      9:28 AM EST
      Bruno was amazing! Best halftime show possibly ever and this from a performer I too doubted in for this, but he was fantastic!

      Regarding the quite unneeded addition, I am by no means a prude, but I do think males should wear shirts when performing at the Super Bowl. It is, for want of better, old guy dirt bag classless and cannot be justified as their “questionably cool alternative image” because it was inappropriate.

      The NFL should have had more faith in Bruno, who gained a new fan in me and I’m sure a lot of others!

    2. Talk about seizing the moment and shaking the crap out of it. The kid and his band aced what would have to be live entertainment’s biggest test, despite their killer performance being nearly obliterated by stupid pyrotechnics and inappropriate Illuminati messaging. The inclusion of the Chili Peppers, looking as if they were just dumped out of a beaker of formaldehyde, only served to make Bruno and co. look and sound even better. Anyway, here’s a song for you, Mr. Mars. Tom Jones wanted it once, but now he’s a little long in the tooth to be able to pull it off. Feel free to use it: https://soundcloud.com/biff-thuringer/i-know-you-want-me

    3. GoSeahawks says:

      One of the hardest working voices in town, that Bruno Mars. Entertaining!

    4. wutang says:

      You could not be more confused. Beyonce is only watchable when her bowling pin legs aren’t front and center. Bruno actually sang with his voice. No gimmick. Straight motown. By far best halftime. Not even comparable to any prince, b, mag bulls### from years past. Get a clue. Go Pack

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