Launching the 25-date “An Evening With Silk Sonic” on Friday (Feb. 25), Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak staged a galactic funkship landing on the Las Vegas Strip, staking their disco ball into uncharted territory — a full-length live concert. As the Dolby Live Theater at Park MGM shook with the opening notes of “777” and out-of-this-world visuals, it felt impossible that Mars and .Paak had never done a show of this magnitude before as a duo.
With the lyrics, “I’m ’bout to buy Las Vegas after this roll … come on, 7-7-7, let’s go,” the ruched red silk curtain raised on a night of funk, soul and R&B dance jams, powered by two musicians who first and foremost came to rock the party — Gucci and Bootsy included.
A neon-laced band shell-style set served as the background for a bongo and drum face-off between Mars and .Paak to start the night, before flowing from “777” to “Skate” as pyro rained. Their cover of Con Funk Shun’s 1982 classic “Love’s Train,” released on Valentine’s Day, also got its first live turn.
From the smooth banter and slick white boots to a video appearance by their deity, funk pioneer Bootsy Collins, Silk Sonic floated effortlessly through drumming, synchronized choreography and light-tenor lyrical riffs in rhinestone-encrusted jackets that captured the glimmer from the disco ball so well.
.Paak’s vintage Gucci yellow-hued sunglasses did not provide much shade from the 24K star power onstage. Silk Sonic makes it look so easy, you would think they invented these sounds and moves, which are more than just a trip down memory lane, but a fusion of styles that land in a contemporary, era-less moment blending the genres of R&B, rap, funk and soul.
“You came to opening night, we didn’t even have a chance to work the kinks out,” .Paak lamented, before putting on an almost 90-minute show that even included a flawlessly unplanned mic drop. While .Paak is new to this theater, Dolby Live is a stage that Mars knows well, as he has performed more than 40 shows at the venue since 2016.
Friday night’s audience also had a major range united by the common desire to get down and get funky on Friday night– many of whom danced just as hard as the performers, thanks to the policy where cell phones were secured in Yondr pouches. Mars and .Paak sang in chorus, “We took your phones away … what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” a calculated move to get people to be present for the art.
In addition to the 17-song setlist, which featured the entire An Evening With Silk Sonic studio album, the 10-piece band glided through a mix of Mars’s hits such as “Treasure” and “Runaway Baby,” and .Paak favorites “Am I Wrong?” and “Come Down.”
A standout moment, Grammy-award winner Maurice Mobetta Brown performed a trumpet solo of “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” into the transition for “Fly As Me” and “Smoking Out the Window.”
The spaceship visuals from the opening returned, accompanied by “Blast Off,” as Silk Sonic presumably retired to their galactic funkship for the evening before embarking on another adventure.
In the last moments, an encore of “Leave The Door Open” with the ubiquitous residency-closing confetti cannons brought Mars and .Paak out for a farewell.