Firstly, I just want to go on record and say that I was a massive Usher fan, stan, or whatever you prefer to call it up until at least 2005. In the week leading up to the tour, I suddenly rediscovered my love (pause) for Usher. In fact, any A&R people that would take pity on a young hardworking brother and give me some free tickets to the next Usher show (that aren’t in seats high enough to give any normal person a nosebleed) would be most appreciated.
Supporting artist Tinchy Stryder was an interesting choice to open up such a massive show but in all fairness, he did his thing and represented #TeamUK pretty well.
Once that was over and done with we got to the main event. Mr Raymond entered the arena on a floating stage arising from the back of the arena to the front whilst singing ‘Monstar’ from his latest album, Raymond Vs Raymond. The crowd went wild and the wheels were set in motion for a good show.
From what I’d heard from people who’d seen ‘Ursh’ perform the week before, the general consensus was that the first half of the show was a bit boring, due to the fact that he only performed songs from his latest album (shock horror – seeing as he’s promoting this album anyway). Then in the second half of the show he brought out the old hits and all was right with the world again. I’m pleased to say that this wasn’t the case because three songs in and I’m bopping to ‘’Yeah” and “U Remind Me”.
However, it was during “U Don’t Have to Call” and “Nice and Slow”, that I had my first inkling that something was a bit off. The beat dropped and while half the stadium (my friends and I included) jumped to our feet and were singing every word and doing the dance moves (maybe that was just me), the other half looked a bit lost. They weren’t feeling this classic piece of syrupy R&B goodness!
Usher sang and danced (and huffed and puffed) his way through all his hits and some songs from the new album as well. My favourites from the new album, ‘There goes my baby’ and ‘Mars vs Venus’ were sang quite well even though not everyone were too aware of these songs.
7 albums deep and Usher’s got so many songs in his back-catalogue. Definitely my favourite part of the show was where it was just him and a DJ, no elaborate dance routines or stage effects and they ran through some of his other hits; Confessions, U-Turn (YESSSSSS!), Lovers and Friends to name but a few.
We had a few more hits before Ursh rounded up the show and turned the stage into some sort of club setting with lasers and glow sticks. This was the part where I rested my weary legs and all the kids got up and started dancing to his Revolutionary Pop (read: sellout) hits – More, DJ Got Us Falling in Love and of course, the crowd pleaser and encore song, OMG. I have to admit that even though these aren’t my favourite songs in the world, they did get the crowd jumping and even I was out of my seat for OMG.
So what was my verdict on the show? Well, it was definitely spectacular and packed full of the tunes I wanted to hear. Usher certainly keeps his eye on the pulse of what’s hot at the moment and as my friend rightly pointed out, ‘dance’ has experienced a huge surge in popularity over the past few years. Good or bad, this meant that Usher spent the majority of the show dancing, when perhaps on some songs, he should have concentrated on the vocals that he is renowned for.
Usher always puts on a great show but this time round, I definitely felt like he was trying to out-dance the Chris Brown’s and the… well…to be fair, there’s no one else relevant at the moment. I do feel that the show was at its most effective when the effects were toned down and the dancing was minimised and lets be honest – Usher is getting on a bit now, in pop-star terms *pours out some liquor for the ghost of dance-moves past*.
I couldn’t help comparing this show to Confessions show back in 2004, when I was just a young lad of 19… We made sure we knew every word of every song that was performed, old and new and I’m pretty sure that everyone else had that same mindset too. Whereas this time round, whenever one of the songs from the new album was performed (aside from the big singles), the crowd became a bit subdued. I guess this is one of the perils of the download generation – knowing the hits but skipping the album tracks…ho-hum….
The OMG tour is definitely an entertaining watch and there are enough highlights to please all ends of the spectrum. Old school Usher fans will enjoy the numerous trips down memory lane and the new schoolers will enjoy the unashamedly pop friendly new material, futuristic clothing and uncombed hair. I guess I’m officially an old school Usher fan. And there’s no shame in that *takes out ipod and selects 8701 on the playlist*