Originally posted on Variety:
Unless you were born with the first name “Prince,” there’s really only so much a performer can do with the Super Bowl halftime show slot, and Bruno Mars did plenty with his. Though it lacked the Olympian heft of Beyonce’s stand last year, or the sheer spectacle and requisite FCC-trolling of Madonna’s pageantry the year previous, Mars relied on a lot of flash, a hefty dose of Famous Flames-style stagecraft, and a requisite hat tip to the military for a winningly unprepossessing performance.
Running through four proper songs in 14 minutes while still leaving time for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to stage a pleasantly brief “Give It Away” cameo, a sparkly-suited Mars kicked off proceedings with a splashy drum solo good enough to attract some wildly overblown Ginger Baker comparisons from Fox commentators.
Though best known for the sort of four-quadrant pop radio hits that often give the short-shrift to his songwriting, Mars’ live act has always been more about old school showmanship, and his rapid-fire medley of “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure” and “Runaway Baby” saw him draw straight from the chitlin’ circuit playbook several times. Whether locking in with his backing band for some loosely coordinated routines, doing the splits or going full-on Ronald Isley, Mars frequently played older than his baby-faced 28-year-old visage would have suggested.