Which performance did you think was the best at the 2013 Grammy Awards? Although there were quite a few good ones, the best of the night had to be the tribute to Bob Marley, which was kicked off by none other than the incomparable Bruno Mars.
Oh, there was some major excitement generated by the return of Justin Timberlake to the stage and performing for the first time in four years, but even his prolonged two-song ode to big bands and style (not to mention the Jay-Z break in "Suit and Tie") couldn't touch it. It brought a little retro-sexy back, but it wasn't enough.
Nor was the all-star tribute to The Band frontman Levon Helm (which included Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Zac Brown, T Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes) the best. They took the load off rather well in their rendition of "The Weight," but it didn't quite get there.
Mumford & Sons rocked the house with their hit "I Will Wait," with the Restoration Jazz Band playing along and Grammy winner Dr. John singing back-up. And yet, not quite far enough.
And Kelly Clarkson, besides being the life of the 2013 Grammy ceremony, showed everyone what power vocals were all about when she performed her tribute to Patti Paige and Carole King. Still, close but not quite...
No, Bruno Mars and the Bob Marley tribute took viewers and the Staples Center crowd to the limits of enjoyment. And it was a trip that almost never happened. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mars was going to set out the 2013 Grammys. However, producer Ken Ehrlich asked if he came up with something special, would the "Runaway Baby" singer at least considerate performing. Mars said he would.
Although there was no special reason for the Bob Marley tribute, Ehrlich thought the idea of getting Mars' to sing his hit song "Locked Out Of Heaven" to kick off a Bob Marley, reggae-based tribute might work. It did.
Cameras caught Adele, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Taylor Swift, Neil Patrick Harris and quite a few others dancing and singing along, reflecting the spirit of Mars' band, a bunch of guys who rarely stop moving. Mars' impassioned singing was only made more enjoyable by the inclusion of Police frontman Sting (who also lent a hand on bass guitar). "Locked Out Of Heaven" bled into the Police's classic reggae hit "Walking On The Moon."
To cap the performance off, Mars introduced Rihanna, Ziggy Marley, and Damien Marley to the stage to wail on Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved," a song from the beloved artist's last album before his death, Uprising.
Say what you want, but a set of songs that rocked, rolled, and moved not only the performers but the audience? That's music on a visceral as well as a transcendent level. It's music that takes you to another place.
Locked out of heaven? Maybe, but not for long. Not if you saw and heard Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Ziggy and Damien Marley as they brought everyone a little closer to that heaven Sunday evening.
No doubt Bob Marley would be proud...