When: Wed., Aug. 21 2013
BRUNO MARS “Who the fuck is Bruno Mars?” groused Radiohead front man Thom Yorke when his Atoms For Peace debut disc was edged out of the number one spot by Mars’ smash LP, Unorthodox Jukebox. Despite Yorke’s sour grapes, it’s a question worth asking, since Mars’ identity is as deliberately blurred as the retro video for his recent single “Treasure.” Energetic and elastic-voiced, Mars cops dance moves from James Brown, yelps from Michael Jackson and cooing come-ons from Prince. His string of genre-jumping hits raids the signposts of simpler eras — Frankie Beverly’s smooth R&B, The Police’s reggaefied New Wave, Elvis Presley’s swivel hips — and blends them into supple, shiny pop. Even Mars’ tropes — he often drops a breathy, bedroom-eye batting “Damn!” in the middle of a slow jam — are endearing, despite Mars’ air of calculated efficiency and pseudo-humility. Yet even with an abundance of charisma and stage craft, Mars is the donut hole in the middle of his dance confections. His catchy chart monsters demand an outsized personality like his idols Elvis and MJ, but Mars is not there yet. The hit-making wizard is still telling us to pay no attention to the man behind the screen.