Bruno Mars staged the first leg of his sold-out concert in the Philippines on Saturday and the energy at the Philippine Arena during the show was palpable. However, the journey to the venue had been far from smooth for many fans, this writer included.
Leaving the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City at around 4 p.m., I thought I had allowed myself ample time to reach the concert venue. Previous experiences of attending concerts at the Philippine Arena made me feel confident, as I recalled arriving just in time for Harry Styles' show despite leaving at a later hour. Little did I know that this time would be different.
At around 6 p.m., the northbound lanes of NLEX resembled a massive parking lot. Vehicles were inching forward at a very, very slow pace, and the anxiety of missing a significant portion of the concert started to become burdensome. During this period, "NLEX," "BrunoMarsinPH," and "Philippine Arena" had already become top trends on Twitter, primarily due to the predicament faced by numerous fans who were still making their way to the complex.
I arrived at the concert venue past 8 p.m. and Mars was already halfway through his set list. Despite my frustration, I considered myself fortunate compared to those who missed out on more of Mars’ performances or, even worse, were unable make it to the venue at all because of the traffic jam.
Nonetheless, as soon as I entered the bustling arena, all my frustrations seemed to melt away.
Mars commanded the venue with his vibrant stage presence and infectious energy. Similar to his past concerts held in the Philippines, everyone enthusiastically sang along to nearly every lyric of his songs.
He also effortlessly captured the audience's attention with his mesmerizing vocals and charismatic persona. Every time he hit the high notes of his tunes, the crowd erupted with thunderous cheers.
Among the songs he performed (at least the ones that I got to watch) were his chart-topping hits like "Runaway Baby," "Grenade," "Leave the Door Open," "When I Was Your Man," "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Just the Way You Are."
During the first part of his concert, Mars also sang "24K Magic," "Finesse," "Treasure," "Billionare" and "Versace on the Floor."
Up until his performance of “Uptown Funk” for the encore, Mars had the entire audience singing and dancing along, and it was impossible for anyone in the arena not to be swept up in the euphoria of the moment.
Despite the initial setbacks and missed song numbers, Mars' concert in the Philippines proved to be a testament to his incredible artistry. Overall, the first day of Mars’ concert was nothing short of spectacular, showcasing his immense talent and showmanship.
A tip to those who are watching the second night of Mars’ Philippine concert on Sunday, June 25: head to the venue several hours ahead of the show and don’t get stuck in traffic. But most importantly, enjoy the show!