"He has to be wearing control underwear"
Usher Toyota Center November 23, 2010
Usher sweats performance. The man doesn't know how to put on a half-ass show, and he packs each one of those shows dangerously full like a munitions specialist loading C4 into a bomb. There's fireworks, male and female dancers, hydraulics, simulated sex, more fire, and the music is smoothed over the top like cream-cheese icing.
Last night's teeming Toyota Center gig saw the man carousing with a gaggle of male dancers, at times wielding guns and sparking drills whilst dancing, and a comely female dance troupe that was so efficient and attractive that they were unsettling to watch.
Few shows this year have matched up to the raw spectacle of a night with Usher. It's big-time Hollywood-blockbuster stuff, like a Bad Boys movie, complete with high-wire acts, espionage, big-budget effects, and a little music.
It's hard for us to believe that the last time we saw Usher live, he was in the tiny House of Blues just a stone's throw from the front door of Toyota Center. This one made the HOB show look like a $5 Fugazi date in a VFW hall.
The secret to Usher is that he doesn't even need the bombs and lasers to get his point across. He's one of the few R&B guys with the stamina and longevity he has had. Even at 32, he's somewhat of a graybeard in his genre.
Yeah, he was using a backing track, but like our concertmate put it, you don't necessarily go to an Usher show for vocal feats. Save that stuff for the platinum albums.
During 2004's "Yeah!", Toyota Center was this state's sweatiest danceteria for three minutes, and we were only three songs into the set. Older cuts from his second LP, 1997's My Way, have been beefed up live to the standards from his recent work.
For "Trading Places," he pulled a willing young lady onstage for the male-female role reversal track. He was doing the usual sing-to-fan-deal when the girl, who couldn't have been more than 20 started fighting back his advances with some feisty moves of her own. It seemed at any moment she was going to paw his pants off. Either someone is a professional, or she was grabbing that brass ring for all it was worth.
"Lil Freak" began with Usher and a female dancer humping on the top of a set of monkey bars, before turning into a clothed orgy a few feet away, including the first female/female 69 we have ever seen inside the House That Yao Built.
It's been a hot minute since we had dirty thoughts about playground equipment, believe it or not. Usher, do you have any hot tips when it comes to jungle gym sex?
The man is a performer of the highest order, and oddly enough, we have noticed doesn't get nearly enough love for his live shows as for his recorded music. Sure, it gets formulaic at times, like "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)," but he burns the house down in a live setting. Having catchy songs that make girls in tiny dresses swoon isn't a crime.
For once, we were sad a show was over. Usher had our imaginary vagina in the palm of his capable hands.
Personal Bias: It's Usher. What's your problem?
The Crowd: Women of all shapes, sizes and creeds, who all smelled like coconut, baby powder or cotton candy. it was amazing.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He has to be wearing control underwear or have it taped and tucked back, right? No homo, bro."
Random Notebook Dump: "Justin Bieber is to Usher as the Rolling Stones were to Muddy Waters," said the fictional homeless man outside we created to make one of the most damning statements we have ever uttered come to life.
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