Review: Bruno Mars at the 02 Arena

Kaye Holland is wowed by Bruno Mars' Moonshine Jungle Tour

Two years ago Bruno Mars played at Hammersmith Apollo which, pre its recent multi million pound refurb, resembled a tired, tatty venue.

Last night he returned to London – this time to the state of the art 02 arena – and was clearly in the mood to party.

The man formerly known as Peter Hernandez certainly has plenty to celebrate: three sold out nights at the 02, two number one albums, one Grammy award – oh and his 28th birthday. ("Thank you London for making my birthday so magical. See you tomorrow. #MoonshineJungle," he tweeted after the gig.)

The dynamic all singing, all dancing performer was determined to have fun from the offset. “"We've been waiting a long time to play for you. We came to make you move, make you sweat. Put your damn camera phones down and dance with us,” he demanded, not long after arriving on stage to the beat of jungle drums.

It worked: the audience never sat down for the duration of the 90 minute set which saw the showman – dressed in a suede waistcoat and white fedora – run through hits including Grenade, Runaway Baby, Marry You, Treasure and the poignant piano ballad, When I was Your Man (“the most difficult song I’ve ever written,” he revealed).

There were also versions of Billionaire and Nothing On You – his collaborations with Travie McCoy and BoB – and covers of Money (That’s What I Want) and R Kelly’s Ignition (Remix) to enjoy.

And he made it all look so easy – whether he was showcasing amazing multi-octave vocals to rival that of Michael Jackson, Chuck Berry guitar rifts or James Brown dance moves.

The Hawaii born entertainer was ably supported in the gyrating department by his energetic seven piece-backing band, The Hooligans. Fronted by the bespectacled Phillip Lawrence, they flanked Mars all night and it was fun to watch them flirt with a (lucky) lady in the front row - a seduction technique they termed “R&B 101".

Bruno closed the show with Just The Way You Are (prompting a mass sing along) before returning on a hydraulic riser for an exhilarating encore of Locked Out Heaven, which he opened with a solo on a gold drum kit. (Yes the man plays drums too).

Mars finished with sultry new single, Gorilla, surrounded by flames and lasers before disappearing beneath the stage. But he’ll be back...

Mars maybe small, standing at a mere five foot five inches tall, but as anyone who attended last night's Moonshine Jungle gig at the 02 will tell you: he’s a huge talent.