Oct 2, 2023: Bruno Mars in Tbilisi – Concert Review

SKA Juice Bar – Tbilisi, Georgia – 1:35pm

Okay. I’m sat down with a Super Juice (raspberry, pineapple and apple), and ready to write about last night’s concert.

What’s Bruno Mars doing in Georgia?!

I know. Bruno Mars — in Georgia?! Whenever I mentioned that I was going to see Bruno Mars in Georgia (the country), my friends all said in unison: “Huh? What’s he doing out there?”

He’s part of the Starring Georgia campaign to have Georgia in the international spotlight more this year. Starring Georgia also saw other big international stars like Imagine Dragons and The Killers perform in the country. I wish I had been able to catch Imagine Dragons in Tbilisi, but I only realized they were playing here maybe a month after tickets had been released–and they were sold out in SEVEN hours on April 24. Crazy.

Which was why, when Bruno Mars announced on stage that he was told his concert had broken an attendance record in Georgia, I was a little skeptical. Just because there were still concert tickets available the day of for his concert. But then I realized that Imagine Dragons had played at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, which only has capacity for 27, 223 people, but Bruno Mars played at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Stadium, which can hold 35, 000 spectators. However, for that concert, they opened up the centregrounds for standing/dancing fans, so there were in fact 70, 000 people in attendance for Bruno’s concert. That is unbelievable! But, it makes sense that there was such a massive turnout for Bruno Mars–it is his first time playing in Tbilisi.

The Experience

I knew to expect a ton of people, so I made my way to the stadium around 6:15pm. Way too early, haha. I’d been expecting it to be super long lines to find my way to my seat, but I breezed right through. There were already people milling around on the grounds, buying beer, soft drinks, and hot dogs from the stands set up on both levels. I don’t know how much they cost because I didn’t check; instead, I just grabbed a bun at a Georgian bakery across the street which cost only 2 lari. The owners could definitely get away with charging more, especially since it’s right outside this massive concert/arena venue. It definitely beats paying probably ten times more for an overpriced hot dog.

I found my seat close to the back of the highest seats in the second tier. The toilets were gross, so I was really glad I didn’t have to go at all during the concert. I basically got to my seat by 7:15pm and just had to pass the time listening to a podcast (on narcissism by Jay Shetty – he didn’t really say anything that I didn’t already know, but it was a good reminder that we should walk the line of “balance between assessment and acceptance,” as he said, so we don’t live constantly in criticism of ourselves, nor conversely ignorance of our own flaws) and reading online articles. The show was supposed to start at 9pm, but Bruno Mars only came on around 9:33pm.

But, damn, when he came out on stage, with the curtain dropping and fireworks exploding overhead, the crowd went wild. The excitement was palpable. I noticed, however, as Bruno Mars did too, that despite 70, 000 people in attendance, it was often quieter than one would expect. He had to ramp up energy levels quite often, and there was even one portion of the show where he and his band went quiet, waiting until people started cheering and calling them to come back before finally restarting his set. Maybe it’s a cultural difference? American artists are definitely used to louder crowds, but I’ve heard that in other countries, staying quiet to hear the artist is their way of showing respect and engagement. So, who knows? The crowds did cheer a lot more at the beginning of songs, when they realized what Bruno was going to perform next, but then died down again until the next set. Still, there were lots of girls cheering “Bruno, Bruno, Bruno!”, wanting an encore at the end.

What I loved was that Bruno Mars did a lot of throwbacks. I grew up listening to his hits back in the 2010 era, so I had been hoping he would play Grenade and The Lazy Song. He did play Grenade, but only the chorus during a throwback mash-up set on the piano. I wish that part had been longer, but I’m glad it was performed at all! Unfortunately The Lazy Song didn’t make the cut. But, he also performed other hits like Talking to the Moon, Billionaire, When I Was Your Man, Just the Way You Are (his last song before the encore), Locked Out of Heaven, and many more (some that I hadn’t heard before). The encore performance was Uptown Funk, which really got the crowd roaring.

I was almost at the extreme back of the stadium, so Bruno Mars was like a Lego man on the stage across an ocean, but I could still see him move about and his face was blown up on the big screens flanking the stage. I wish I could have been closer, but I wasn’t really willing to pay more than I already had (my ticket in the back cost almost 240 lari, or CAD$120). What I loved though was that Bruno would change the lyrics to incorporate Georgia into them (he probably does this everywhere, and it’s probably a staple for all artists — I just haven’t been to a famous star’s concert in such a long time, haha). Whenever he mentioned Georgia, that always got a massive roar from the crowds (although it was often truncated… kind of strange. It’s almost like people would scream and then cut themselves off, maybe because their throats already hurt haha). Not going to lie, my voice was hoarse by the end of the concert because of all the singing, screaming and cheering.

The concert ended around 11:20pm. I had already started making my way down the stairs during the last song, and caught the encore performance from a few rows down from my original seat. So much fun! I went by myself, but I still had a blast. I’m glad I headed down a bit earlier, because that made leaving the stadium that much easier (without missing any part of the concert). Perhaps the real miracle of that night was that I arrived back at my accommodation a mere half hour after the concert ended. My only expenses that night, besides the concert ticket, were the bun I ate and the bolt ride I paid for (10 lari), since the buses had stopped by that hour.

Overall, it was a groovy trip down memory lane. Hearing all these songs from my youth live was such a nostalgic treat. Part of me wishes I could just follow stars around the world and watch concert after concert… But, that kind of lifestyle requires infinite resources. Besides, I’d rather be the one on stage creating music and performing under the bright lights. Maybe one day.

I did briefly think about that, trying to imagine it from Bruno Mars’ perspective. What would it be like performing at a stadium of 70, 000 fans? I imagine you might not get stage fright performing in front of a sea of faces that eventually fades to a black ocean of twinkling phone lights, at least not in the same way that you might get stage fright playing in front of a more intimate audience in a smaller, cozier venue, where it feels like you have to be that much more vulnerable. But, maybe someone as experienced and practiced as Bruno Mars doesn’t even get stage fright anymore. Who knows? But, what an incredible life experience.

Enjoy the videos!

Unrelated Updates

I went to bed late, like 1am, after uploading Bruno Mars videos to Instagram. But, woke up early at 7am to get some ghostwriting done and then do for another practical driving lesson. This time, I drove the Tbilisi streets in some light rain. The constant starting and stopping gave me lots of practice in first gear. My driving instructor said my driving is “normal.” Hopefully I pass. I don’t want to keep shelling out for 50 gel lessons forever haha.

Also had another theory lesson, and I’m really looking forward to completing the theory course. I’m getting tired of the curriculum, especially because of the convoluted phrasing and mistranslation. The first few times, it was charming; now, it’s extra brainwork that I’m lazy to do. Luckily, I should be done with the course by Thursday or Friday, a relief! I also booked my driving test for next Monday, so I’ll head out to Rustavi then. I’m excited to get it over with (hopefully I pass on the first attempt).

Now, let’s get to continuing work on my horror novella for this week! I’ve got a few hours to spare before my hula hoop, pole exotic, and pole fit classes tonight. I also always look forward to treating myself to Korean food after.



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