On Sunday, I attended the Usher ‘OMG Tour’ at the Colonia Life Arena. And let me say that even though Usher is a younger performer, he had something for everyone. I believe every age group would have found his performance entertaining. Whether you grew up with James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson or Chris Brown, this show had something you could identify with.
Admittedly, I’m not easily impressed. I often frown up my face while others smile with glee. Well, Sunday night, I was the one smiling. Was it because of Usher’s flawless vocal ability? His superb dancing skills? Yes. But it was also because he took the best of many of our greatest performers and made them his own. I saw a little bit of Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, and Michael Jackson in Usher.
Earth Wind and Fire. Ok… true, I’ve never seen Earth, Wind & Fire in concert. But I’ve heard my older friends reminisce about the EWF concerts they attended. I’ve been told that EWF was the first (and some still say the best) concert they’d ever attended that used many of the elements that are commonplace nowadays. Elements like dynamic flashing lights, smoke, fireworks, loud booms… all of which Usher used brilliantly.
Something else I noticed that Usher did that was typical of Earth Wind & Fire was make use of the entire stage. Every inch of the stage was used for something meaningful. Whether it was dancers dancing in perfect unison, or dudes on illuminated skateboards, the entire stage was part of Usher’s show.
James Brown. I think anyone who has seen James Brown perform knows that he had a magical relationship with the microphone. Whether he dropped to his knees and cradled it in his arms like a woman, or grabbed it, threw it to the floor just to magically will it back up again, the microphone was a dynamic part of James Brown’s performance. I saw a glimpse of that same magic in Usher. There was one number in which a big blue microphone suspended from the ceiling that Usher swung way out into the crowd and caught it on the other side of the stage as it swung back to him. You know, that sounds simple, but when paired with the energy and all the other action on the stage, it made for a hot number.
Michael Jackson. Well, anyone with eyes could see and a heart could feel Michael Jackson’s influence on Usher Raymond. Now, there will never be another Michael Jackson, but I’ll be damn in Usher Raymond didn’t perform his ass off! You know how Michael’s concerts were like live videos? That’s how Usher’s show was. And if you were close enough to the stage, you could see the intensity in Usher’s eyes as he spun, sung, and danced his way from song to song. It was very Michael Jackson-like!
There were a couple of times in which Usher and his dancers seemed to glide from position to position. I later learned that was through the use of a conveyor belt, but at the time, that looked like some Michael Jackson magic!
Oh yeah. And how can I forget the flawless, intricate choreography? I have never seen another performance used dance, acrobatics, and extreme sports the way Usher did. It was quite a spectacle.
Usher. Even though Usher reminded me of some of our musical greats, his performance was very much his own. The two most notable aspects of his performance were his flawless vocals and his connection/interaction with the crowd. I will never understand how Usher can dance with all the vigor of Michael Jackson and sing with the clarity and precision of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phillip Bailey. There are some people who are great performers but vocals are mediocre. There are others who have the voice of an angel, but are as boring as watching paint dry. But Usher was tops in both.
Finally, Usher’s connection and appreciation for his fans were praiseworthy. He took his time and acknowledged every section of the arena, especially those in the rafters. But the best acknowledgement was when he searched for his ultimate fan and brought her to the stage for an intimate performance. And when he selected Anna White, he truly picked the perfect fan. I think every lady’s jealousy subsided as White sang every word of “Trading Places” with Usher while looking in his eyes (I know I could not have done that!) The performance was more like a well-rehearsed duet rather than impromptu on-stage fan moment. I don’t think that Usher could have selected a better person. It was a memorable moment. (Photo courtesy of The Daily Gamecock)
I know we recently had Prince and Patti LaBelle in Columbia. Keith Urban, Kenny Chesnee and Taylor Swift are also on their way. But believe me when I say, Usher Raymond left his mark on Columbia!