When Bruno Mars came out for his headlining set to close out Day 1 of Music Midtown 2017, the funk-pop star initially had just one request: for the audience to put their cameras away. With a set that recalled simpler musical eras, it soon became borderline-silly to even have one's phone out during a set that focused on classic methods of entertainment and made Mars all the more distinguished of a festival headliner.
Following a setlist similar to the one from his ongoing 24K Magic world tour, the singer opened with "Finesse" ("just the warm up," he said), before launching into singles "24K Magic" and "Treasure" on a stage that recalled a '70s disco show with vintage lights that visually recall the era as his Hooligans band mates accompanied him to play their instruments and perform simple, synchronized choreography. With a handful of fireworks and sparkly lighting, Bruno started a show that felt noticeably different from the other great sets of the night thanks to a throwback feel that made the set all the more powerful.
Multiple highlights throughout the show invoked a feeling of yesterday. Bruno got old-school on us and pretended to leave multiple voicemails (who does that anymore?) for a potential beau for a segment in "Calling All My Lovelies" while he taught the crowd to "break it down" by simply stepping one foot in front of the other (so easy even the drunk, middle-aged couple in front of me could join). Meanwhile, Mars' full musicality was on full display as he led the crowd's sways with his guitar during "Marry You" and only needed a simply lit stage and piano for a solo performance of "When I Was Your Man." There wasn't a need for over-the-top pyrotechnics or a ton of turning up with the crowd—there was no "Let me see you jump!!!" shoutouts—and instead Bruno used good-old fashioned, clean concert fun.
Maybe it was on purpose, maybe not, but from the all-red stage lighting for "Grenade" to the technicolor-rainbow brightness for "Treasure" and "Perm," it was actually extremely difficult to snap a clear photo of Bruno and friends with one's mobile device due to the unique stage set up. But maybe that was the point. Mars' Music Midtown set was all about simply dancing and singing—everyone joined in on encore cuts like "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Uptown Funk"—making his set all the memorable and enjoyable, to the point that you wouldn't even want to bring your phone out. And isn't that just what Bruno asked for from the start?
Stay tuned to Fuse for more on-the-ground coverage from Music Midtown 2017. Next, watch a classic Fuse interview with Bruno Mars talking about the superstars that influence him: