With nary a middle finger or nipple shield in sight, pop star Bruno Mars took the Super Bowl halftime stage tonight with a polished, shiny set oddly interrupted for a moment by shirtless 50-year-olds. Donning his signature suit (tonight was metallic gold) and skinny tie — but no fedora, dammit — flanked by a pack of identically adorned band members, Bruno and his crew aptly struck a very “Jersey Boys” look through their five-song halftime set at MetLife Stadium.
There’s no question the kid is talented. He opened up behind a drum kit (he also plays bass, guitar, and piano, people), banging out an indisputable funky beat before launching into monster hits “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Treasure.” It sounded and looked like real vocals backed by a real band putting on a real show for a really huge audience. Mars is a truly impressive performer — catchy songs, strong vocals, and James Brown footwork rivaled only by the Godfather himself.
Then, as announced, the Chili Peppers came out for a few minutes of their song “Give It Away.” Shirtless, of course. There was nothing wrong with the Chili Peppers. I think most people rather like the Chili Peppers. It was just an odd non-sequitur. Whether Bruno tapped them to appear with him tonight because he was nervous about headlining alone or just because he thought it’d be cool to funk along with these legendary musicians, it was a bit random and unnecessary.
For the big finish, video ran of soldiers overseas dedicating the last song, “Just the Way You Are,” to their loved ones back home. Bruno stepped out in the spotlight alone to belt out that final number, and let the massive fireworks display take it home.
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to describe the set as flawless. Memorable? Maybe less so. Bruno Mars songs just haven’t been with us long enough to feel quite right when chopped up into segments and pasted together into a Super Bowl halftime medley. But Mars did what he set out to do and should be proud of tonight. I just wish the Chilis would’ve flashed us.
Watch the set below: