It is difficult to find a concert the whole family can enjoy these days. Maybe it always has been. I remember my dad used to win tickets on the radio and when my mom had to work, I would be taken along to see acts such as Stevie Nicks or Ricky Skaggs and Lee Greenwood and I remember thinking it was cool I was at a concert but underwhelmed by music I couldn’t relate to. I also remember getting older and my poor parents having to sit through productions like the Club MTV Tour. So when the Hooligans in Wondaland Tour was announced, I jumped at the chance to bring my wife and daughter to a show we could all enjoy. My wife and I are fans of Janelle Monáe and her sporadic performances and our daughter’s ideal playlist would include Bruno Mars‘ Grenade and nothing else. So on the first weekend of summer we found ourselves at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield for a family night of music.
Overall the three artists on the bill put on a good, if not spectacular, show. Janelle Monáe had sixteen people on stage with her…singers, caped dancers, horns, drums, guitar…it was a true show. A show that fell flat on a bewildered audience. This was a Bruno Mars crowd, a preteen crowd that could appreciate Tightrope and Coldwar, but did not have the attention span for much else. After seeing her a few times, I will say it was her weakest performance, but it was also her weakest audience. Despite all of that, I still believe she has more talent in her pinky than the rest of the acts put together.
Bruno Mars has a damn good voice, he knows how to work the crowd and can drive the ladies (or little girls) into a frenzy with his songs of teenage love and heartache. There were a few (expected) moments that were a little explicit for our 8-year-old, but other than that he kept the sexual content to mere suggestions, suggestions that went over our little girl’s head. As you will see below, the lyrics don’t mean much to her, she’s more a visual person. She could give a damn about Bruno’s ‘P90X and really nice sex‘, as long as he’s got pretty lights behind him!
An interview with an 8-year-old fan:
Hey Nicolle, turn off the TV for a sec, I want to do an interview with you about the concert.
A what? Why? How many questions do I have to answer?
You attended the Hooligans in Wonderland Tour at 1st Bank Center on Sunday night. Was it the best concert ever?
Ok, well, what was the best part of the show?
ummm, how they could move the background screen around and the stuff they were showing on it. That was cool.
So you liked the production of the show the best?
What did you think of Mayer Hawthorne?
He was so-so.
What made him seem older, the fact that he covered Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams Come True or that he tried to explain what a vinyl record is?
When he explained the record.
Do you know what a vinyl record is?
Do you think most of the kids there knew what it was?
Do you know how to do the Earl Flynn?
(puts both hands up and does the double Earl Flynn) Yes, that is easy.
What about Janelle Monáe, did you like her set?
It was good.
Did her singing, dancing, costumes or painting impress you most?
Really, more than her singing?
OK, singing, but the painting was really cool too.
Do you feel her performance was lost on the audience?
No, I think they liked her.
Janelle is an extremely unique talent in a world of prepackaged pop stars, do you think she will ever get the respect she deserves or do you feel her music is too difficult for the masses?
O-K. Do you like it better when she channels James Brown or Michael Jackson?
Maybe Michael Jackson.
Do you know who James Brown was?
No, not really, that’s why I picked Michael Jackson
And last, she has been through town four times in the past year. With MGMT, Erykah Badu, Of Montreal and now Bruno Mars. It feels like her booking agent is just putting her on anything that will have her, trying to find a fanbase. Do you think it’s time for her to headline her own show? And if not, who would you like to see her open for next?
She should be the main person or open for the Tangled Soundtrack.
How was Bruno Mars?
What was your favorite song?
What do you like most about him?
The pictures and lights that go along with his songs.
So, the visuals again, huh?
Yeah, I like his music too.
Do you like the 10 min. r&b version of Nothin’ On You better than the shorter rap version with B.O.B.?
Do you want Bruno to ‘marry you’?
No. Why would you ask that?! (proving again, she doesn’t listen to the lyrics)
You refused to leave before the encore was over, how far past your bedtime was that?
uhhh, 38 minutes?
It was 11:00pm.
What?!!! Then 2 hours.
When you were 5 years old you saw Bon Iver, Drive-By Truckers, Broken Social Scene and Wilco all in the same day, how did this show compare to that?
I don’t even know! I don’t remember that!
Probably because you slept through Wilco. You have actually slept through Wilco twice now, so I’m guessing they arn’t your favorite live act. Who is? What has been your favorite concert?
The Rockettes (The Rockettes Holiday Show at Pepsi Center where she got to go backstage and meet Santa and The Rockettes)
OK, so you really do like the production more than the music.
No, I like the music too.
OK, that’s it, thanks Nicolle.
Yeah! Can I turn the TV back on?
Bruno Mars setlist:
Top Of The World
Money (That’s What I Want)
Our First Time
The Lazy Song
Count On Me
Liquor Store Blues
Nothin’ On You
Just the Way You Are
Somewhere in Brooklyn / Talking to the Moon
Janelle Monáe setlist:
Dance or Die
Mushrooms & Roses
I Want You Back