Show Review + Photos: Bruno Mars and Donnis at Pop's, Friday, November 26
Bruno Mars' popularity has been gaining momentum at an incredible rate over the past several months, so it comes as no surprise that he easily sold out his concert last night at Pop's. (Presumably, he's fine-tuning his live performance before moving on to bigger venues.) Women comprised the majority of the crowd, ranging in age from young teens to the parents who brought them. This should come as no surprise either, as most of the crooner's pop-heavy chart-toppers are aimed squarely at the ladies.
Jason Stoff Bruno Mars at Pop's
Prior to the show, anticipation was building as old-school soul music played in the background. Around 7:45, the audience erupted when a DJ took the stage and put on Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You!," a song co-written by Mars. It was a false alarm, though: The song was followed by a half-hour dance mix.
The opening act was Atlanta rapper Donnis, who was promoting the aptly-named mixtape Fashionably Late. The newcomer was able to get a positive response from the crowd, despite the fact that most probably weren't familiar with his music. His style is not radically different from other acts from his hometown; his set sounded similar to T.I or Jeezy, but without all the cocaine and gunplay in his lyrics. He played for about 30 minutes, closing with the single "Gone," which was given some extra exposure thanks to a Lil Wayne version.
Jason Stoff Donnis at Pop's
During the intermission, the crew came out and performed a sound check (something I don't see enough of at live concerts). Unfortunately, the headliner's set still had issues with feedback from time to time, although it was only a minor annoyance.
Mars came out with a 5-piece band, which included Philip Lawrence on backup vocals. (Lawrence is a co-founder of Mars' production team, the Smeezingtons.) They opened up with "The Other Side," his collaboration with B.o.B and Cee Lo Green, followed by the Jamiroquai-esque "Top of the World." Mars' vocals sound just as smooth live as they do on his records, and he seems to have good command of the stage. Most of his moves onstage are consistent with his '50's-inspired persona.
Mars mixed things up a little by mashing up Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" with the song that inspired it, Barrett Strong's Motown classic "Money (That's What I Want)." Next he sang MJ's "Billie Jean" lyrics over Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." "Marry You," "The Lazy Song," and "Just the Way You Are" were all included in the hour-long set, as was one of Philip Lawrence's songs, "Bob with Me."
Jason Stoff Bruno Mars and band at Pop's
After thanking the crowd (and asking for some turkey leftovers), Mars and the band disappeared backstage. They quickly returned to perform an encore at the crowd's request: "Runaway Baby" and "All About You," which he said was one of the first songs he'd ever written.