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Reviews: Critics split on Bruno Mars' Xcel show

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Pop star Bruno Mars played to a sold-out Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Sunday night, impressing one local critic and leaving another desiring a bit more.

Ross Raihala called Mars' concert "a wildly enjoyable night of music" in his Pioneer Press review, noting the singer-musician presented the show like an amalgam of some of the greatest performers in music history.

Raihala says Mars "was leading his crackerjack band like James Brown, the next seducing the front row with the power of (a pre-Jehovah's Witness) Prince, the next spinning and squealing like Michael Jackson when he was still a 'Thriller.'"

The critic said while the show may have lacked in originality, Mars "made up for that with sheer adrenaline, commanding the delirious sold-out crowd of more than 16,000 with the skill of a guy who has been doing this for decades."

Calling Mars "the biggest broad-appeal male pop star since Justin Timberlake," Jon Bream in his Star Tribune review says the singer-musician didn't put himself in the spotlight enough in the show and "there were simply not enough star turns to make Mars seem like the superstar he deserves to be."

"Mars favored ensemble choreography (even though he can be a dazzling dancer), arty lighting that seldom put him in the spotlight and an unspectacular outfit (cougar-patterned shirt, black slacks and straw hat) that made him blend in with his casually dressed bandmates (in unmatching outfits)," Bream writes.

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