Making an appearance for two nights in a row at the BOK Center, Bruno Mars certainly put on a show to remember.
The night started with a live DJ with some clips from the The New Dance Show rolling on the screens on either side of the stage. DJ Rashida, known for her mixes of hip hop, soul, pop, and rock, put everyone in the mood by spinning tracks like Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and hits by Salt-N-Pepa.
She came on at 7:30 exactly and ended at 8 on the nose. Wearing an over-sized shirt and natural curls, she exuded a throwback look. 80s dancers on the screens showed off their moves to the beats DJ Rashida was bumping.
The goal was to warm the crowd up, a success based on the number of people bopping in their seats.
She ended her set by blowing a kiss and waving at the crowd, fifteen minutes before Ella Mai was scheduled to go on.
Ella Mai, an R&B artist from London, UK, didn’t leave the audience waiting long. At 8:15, she entered the stage ready to go.
Singing hits like “Boo’d Up” and “Naked,” Mai belted her heart out. The crowd shouted the lyrics along when they could, pulsing to the beat.
Before playing one of her newer songs, “Trip,” Mai announced that the release of her self-titled album would be happening at exactly 11:00 that night (October 11th). Beaming with pride, she could barely contain her bubbling excitement. In fact, she stumbled over her introduction of “Trip,” laughing away her mistakes.
On Friday, at the beginning of her performance, she again mentioned her newly released album. Apparently, she went by Target earlier in the day and bought the whole rack of her CDs. They were then signed and sold at the merch table that night.
Back to Thursday, though, Ella Mai shook the crowd with her performance, impressing fans of Bruno Mars who hadn’t heard of her.
The lights went on at exactly 8:45, the moment she exited the stage, and thus began the forty minute break.
To amuse themselves during this long break, some super-fans in section 118 (just to the left of the stage in the lower section) started prompting others to start an arena-wide wave. It was pathetic, at first, with only a small portion of the left side participating. Then, after the wave started and then ended a few times, getting a little further each attempt, the wave made its way through the entirety of the arena. Even the upper division and the floor participated – the whole bowl seemed to move, arms going up on cue.
The wave went around multiple times before people got tired and stopped.
Then, the curtain dropped with the Bruno Mars logo. Lights began to dim. The screens on either side of the stage came on. A voice rang out, auto-tuned, asking, “Are you ready?”
The curtain came up, and there he was.
“Finesse” began the setlist, a fitting start. And so went the concert.
It was loud, so very loud. Music bounced off of the walls. If you weren’t getting up to flail around in the aisles, you were dancing in your seat.
“24k Magic” was the second song, followed by “Treasure.” In this time, Mars barely acknowledged the crowd. It wasn’t until the fourth song did he take a minute to talk. He did so by pitting the left side versus the right in a jump war.
Neither side won, it seemed – or, should I say, both sides won.
He played all of his hits, dancing and jumping in ways unreachable to the average person. His band (the saxophone, trombone, and trumpet player, as well as the guitarist) moved in sync across the stage, travelling in a pack from one side to the other.
After playing “When I Was Your Man” and “It’ll Rain,” Mars took a break and let his keyboardist do a piano solo.
After the solo, Mars came out for “Locked Out of Heaven.” Gold confetti rained down on the floor. Fireworks exploded on the stage. The whole room was lit in gold.
“Just the Way You Are” was announced as the next and last song, a fan favorite, the song that put Bruno Mars on the map. Everyone in the audience was singing along to this one, including many of the BOK Center staff.
The song was extended, breaking towards the end in order to introduce the band members, and then the crowd was invited to end the song by singing the final chorus.
The band and Mars jumped it out as the curtain came down, circling in a choreographed way. The arena stayed dark, though, and the audience called for more.
“Tulsa! Do you want to hear one more song?” rang out from the stage.
The opening of “Uptown Funk” echoed off the ceiling and walls. The curtains came back up. Screaming was all that could be heard from the fans.
People trying to get a head start on traffic had already began their exit, but they flooded back for the encore, packing the walkways.
Two nights of this occurred, with few differences. The show was the same, the lineup was the same, and the setlist was the same. The only differences were the people and the occasional mention of the night before.
During one of the songs on Friday, Mars pulled out a gold phone and said, “Hey baby, I’m in Tulsa right now. Remember when we vacationed there? … I had a Groupon,” prompting laughter from the whole place.
Other than that, the shows were identical. Yet, I didn’t hear a single person complaining.