Skateboard P raised the stakes but, from the first verse of “Moonshine”, it was clear that Bruno was up to the challenge. After setting the retro-soul tone with “Treasure”, the beaming Grammy winner admitted that this was his first visit to the Hollywood Bowl (in any capacity) since arriving in LA 10 years ago.
He certainly made up for lost time by taking his fans and celeb friends — Zac Efron, Lea Michele, Paula Abdul and Quentin Tarantino were just a few of the famous faces in attendance — on a thrill-ride dotted with old tunes (“Billionaire”, “Our First Time” and “Marry You”), unexpected covers (“Pony”, “Every Little Step” and “Ignition”) and cuts from 2012 LP Unorthodox Jukebox (“If I Knew”).
It was a near-perfect mix that showcased Bruno’s powerful pipes and his band’s incredibly musicianship. (Rhythm sections don’t get much tighter than this). The pop star proved to be a natural entertainer, dancing through the up-tempo numbers while dropping endearing anecdotes between slower songs. Prince and Michael Jackson are the “Nothin’ On You” singer’s obvious inspirations but he has carved out his own niche.
Highlights included Bruno’s swoonworthy rendition of “When I Was Your Man”, his beefed up rock interpretation of “Grenade” and the off-the-cuff collaboration with Pharrell. The hitmakers teamed up for an initially shaky but ultimately must-hear/see cover of N.E.R.D.’s “Rock Star”.
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