Usher ‘The UR Experience’
Concert Review By Andy Upton
Images By Paul Wilkins
American Airlines Center Dallas,Texas
December 4, 2014
Always eager to try something new and to step out of my comfort zone a little bit, I head down to the American Airlines Center last night for a good old fashioned, sexy R&B show last night. As I settled on for the first of three acts, I scanned through the eclectic crowd that had women outnumbering men by a good 10 to 1 margin and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Whole families, moms with daughters, plenty of “girlfriend groups” and enough bare skin to cover all of Dallas. At times it seemed more like an “event” than a concert but I was willing to hang in there and let the performers on stage decide that.
Up first was DJ Cassidy and as best as I could tell he was there just to get the crowd warmed up. He has a very impressive background deejaying parties and concerts for the likes of Oprah, Beyonce and even Michelle Obama. Accompanied by one keyboardist and one guitarist, Cassidy fronted the group with pizazz at his turntable/mixer board. They were very energetic and had a great mix of recognizable party songs mixed with his own programmed beats and sampling.
August Alsina, the BET Awards 2014 Best New Artist, had the middle slot this evening and his show was a mixed bag = some good moments, some not so good moments. The ladies definitely loved this guy, especially the moments he lifted up his shirt to show off his six-pack. At times, he has a great voice with wonderful range but I think he was just in too much of a party mood to show it off. His 4-piece band was polished and worked very hard (especially the DJ) to provide excellent music for him to sing along with; however his constant raunchy, vulgar language left nothing to the imagination. His portion of the show lost steam with the slow songs and tried to bounce back with some upbeat selections but all in all just came across as a young man trying to sex up the ladies all night.
I seriously thought that I had properly prepared myself for the screams that would erupt when Usher Raymond Terry IV walked out onto the stage, but boy was I ever wrong. Having never been to an Usher (or boy band) show – the constant screaming was relentless. Coming out to a highlight reel of past performances, Usher was the coolest cat I’ve ever seen. I could hear the hearts melt and the hormones race all around me = the guy is just plain old sexy!!! He opened up with the 1997 hit “My Way”, danced his way right into the will.i.am produced hit “OMG” and did not let up for nearly two hours. I’ve never seen that many performers on one stage at one time (counted 17 at one point) = there were numerous male and female dancers, keyboardists, guitar & bass players, a horn section, backing vocalists and one badass drummer. With his slick dancing moves and powerful singing, Usher was pouring sweat after only three songs. He stopped long enough to catch his breath and then dove into “U Make Me Wanna” and “Lil Freak”. At this point, I think the audience was worn out because a lot of them finally sat down. Usher did not need a break though – he kept at it with hits “Twisted” and “Caught Up”.
He finally did take a little time out to talk to the crowd about being born in Dallas (“I’m one of you”) before his family moved on to Chattanooga and then Atlanta. He also thanked all of his fans: the “Day 1s”, older and newer ones. To speed things up a bit, Usher treated his fans to a little medley of songs that included “I Need a Girl”, “I Don’t Mind” and “Burn”. The applause grew louder with each song and I believe this was the high point of the evening. The crowd quieted down again, but Usher’s band, backup singers and dancers kept going. The energy that flowed off the stage was very exciting and all of the performers seemed to be having the time of their lives. Throwing in the new hit “Good Kisser” and an older one “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” capped off a wide-ranging set list that covered most of his career.
Usher’s slow, sexy songs seemed to go over the best on this night but the crowd really loved anytime he was dancing and in the spotlight alone. He has a wonderfully soulful voice with all kinds of range and he actually seems to love every minute that he gets to perform for the audience. As for me – I was pleasantly surprised at how awesome the whole production was and can now appreciate Usher’s distinguished career a little better.