When he opened his first Las Vegas residence on Friday night, it was hard to say who was having the most fun: Usher or the audience. But there’s no denying that the singer-songwriter has now left his own indelible mark on the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, which hosted the previous residences of Celine Dion, Cher, Elton John, Mariah Carey and Rod Stewart.
“It’s so nice that I don’t want to close the curtain,” said a beaming Usher surrounded by the cast and crew at the end of his full 90-minute set.
Between that date and the opening of the red velvet curtains around 9:30 p.m., the singer kept a screaming audience standing the entire time, starting with his electrifying entry into the middle of the audience. Dressed in a sparkling blue outfit and declaring, “You are in Vegas,” Usher launched a clip of “My Way” as he walked from the right side of the room to the stage.
From there, Usher rolled out in quick succession and other fan favorites from a Grammy-winning career that began in 1994. The energetic journey down memory lane began with “Caught Up,” followed by “Love in This Club”. and “Party” (Chris Brown’s song with Usher and Gucci Mane). It was an uninterrupted audience singing as Usher and his team of dancers triggered a series of oh-wow moments from there, including “Lovers and Friends” and “There Goes My Baby”.
During a segment devoted to his Atlanta roots, Usher donned skates with his dancers and transformed the massive Colosseum stage into a giant ice rink as he performed “Don’t Waste My Time” (featuring Ella Mai). Then, in a nod to Magic City, Atlanta’s famous strip club, the pole dancers showed their flexibility amid a shower of Ush dollars on songs such as “I Don’t Mind.” , “Bad Girl”, “Good Kisser” and “Back to Sleep” (Chris Brown with Usher and Zayn).
Usher noted at one point, “You all know I was raised in the ‘A’… that’s ATL in Vegas.”
Work your way through a playlist that also included “DJ Got Us Fallin ‘in Love”, “OMG” and, of course, “Yeah”. At one point, Usher jumped off the stage to once again interact with the audience on “My Boo” and “U Remind Me”. Back on stage, Usher continued to display his own signature and spellbinding dancing skills, particularly on “You Make Me Wanna …”, performing alongside four other flowing male dancers.
Another crowd-pleasing moment came when Usher made his way into the mellow Summer Walker’s vibe on which he performed “Come Thru,” complemented by a sultry interaction between himself and a lonely dancer. Completing the sexual tension in this segment in which Usher made women scream with his own suggestive moves: “Bad Habits”, “Nice & Slow” and “Climax”. A major highlight of the evening itself came with the ballads “Burn” and “Confessions Part II”.
Beyond the depth of its catalog, the common thread of the evening was the sense of spectacle and Usher’s passion for his art. A close-up of his face projected onto the two giant video screens framing either side of the stage (below each of which were platforms housing the musicians) said it all: Usher smiling from ear to ear through drops of sweat.
Before concluding with a heartfelt performance of “Without You,” the 2011 David Guetta track he was guest on, Usher told the audience, “I want to take two seconds to enjoy this moment.” The song was a fitting way to end the show as the singer later noted, “Thanks so much for being here. I couldn’t do this without you. End of the night: a shower of miniature Ush dollars from $ 20 raining down on the sated audience.
Usher – The Vegas Residence runs from Saturday to August 14.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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