Usher goes all out on his "OMG Tour"
Michael Jackson left some big shoes to fill, and R&B star Usher rather brazenly volunteered to fill them on Friday (11/19) at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ.
First, a pair of sparkly boots arrived before him from offstage via a moving sidewalk. Then, he asked the crowd, "Do I have your permission to fill these shoes?" One would think he was about to embark on a Jackson tribute, but instead he went on to play his own material.
During a recent teleconference with journalists, Usher alluded to the Jackson move and discussed the comparisons.
"We lost Michael Jackson," he said. "A lot of pressure is on me, and I don't mind taking it. And for all of the entertainers who are still living and keeping it live, I show support and I salute them through what I do. We pay tribute in the way we sing a lot of times and the way we dance.
"You will see the comparisons of the great choreographers and the great dance creators of the world, man. I think that they are our superheroes of this planet. I think that artists who are able to go through a life-changing experience, come out of it and then talk about it and leave it as a note, that is kind of similar to what a superhero [does].
"Choreographers are able to bend their bodies and create shapes and looks and visuals that are incredible. That deserves a nod. And I do it through my entertainment. That's how I pay tribute, and that's my seasoning."
He said he hopes fans are blown away by his latest jaunt, dubbed the "OMG Tour," which wraps up in the U.S. on New Year's Eve in Miami.
"The look of the tour, it's a little futuristic but enough to capture your attention and leave you saying, 'OMG,'" Usher said. "That's the whole point. With an incredible record, I wanted to also leave a great impression.
"Live performance has always been my thing. It's my purpose to master and capture the moment every time I have you connected. For me, I wanted to make sure that it was state of the art. I wanted to make sure that, in comparison to the other shows that are going on around the world, you get the type of experience that leave you saying, 'OMG.'"
This past summer, Usher released "Versus," an extension of his sixth studio album, "Raymond v. Raymond." The collection debuted at No. 1 on the pop and R&B album charts and spun five hits, including the pop smash "OMG" featuring Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas.
Usher said the "OMG" show is "more technical" than his normal concert in terms of the staging. Film vignettes fill time while the singer is changing costumes.
"While choreography has always been the best way for me to articulate myself on stage, there is a lot of screen content, and also a few remarkable moments that I've built into the show," Usher said. "So expect a show that's above and beyond what you normally would get from Usher."
During previous runs, Usher made it clear the shows were primarily for the ladies. But he said he's broadened the scope this time around. At the Glendale show, which should have carried a PG-13 rating, scantily clad dancers climb on Usher, who himself moves provocatively. At one point, Usher encouraged women in the audience to remove their shirts.
"As I look back over my full catalog of music, I feel like I'm at that point where everybody in the family can come to this show and enjoy something," he said. "I think some songs are a lot more intimate and R&B, some songs are very much pop and new age. Some songs are very specific for the club. Some songs are very specific for the experience. So everybody gets something."
The younger audience, he said, will get the chance to hear some of his "classic music." For the older audience, they are able to hear and feel something they might not necessarily expect.
"My point is to artistically take people on a journey they might not otherwise be able to experience, meaning the dance and everything that I've created that has been planned for this tour," he said.
"A lot of it is pulled from all over the world, different styles of dance. The musical experience, it pulls from all over the world. The visual experience I pulled from a lot of things that I've seen in my inspiration of videos and also my inspirations for directors. So I pulled all that stuff together to give people this ultimate OMG experience."
Set list from Nov. 19:
2. "She Don't Know"
4. "U Remind Me"
5. "U Don't Have To Call"
6. "You Make Me Wanna"
7. "Mars vs Venus"
8. "Nice and Slow"
9. "Love 'Em All"
10. "Trading Places"
11. "Love in This Club"
12. "Lil Freak"
13. "Hot Tottie"
14. "There Goes My Baby"
16. "Bad Girl"
17. "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)"
18. Medley - "Confessions Part 2," "My Boo," "I Need A Girl," "Lovers and Friends"
19. "Caught Up"
20. "DJ Got Us Falling In Love"
23 - Houston, TX - Toyota Center
24 - Dallas, TX - American Airlines Center
26 - St. Louis, MO - Scottrade Center
27 - Kansas City, MO - Sprint Center
29 - Toronto, Ontario - Air Canada Centre
30 - Montreal, Quebec - Bell Centre
2 - Detroit, MI - Joe Louis Arena
3 - Rosemont, IL - Allstate Arena
5 - Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena
7 - Greensboro, NC - Greensboro Coliseum
8 - Baltimore, MD - First Mariner Arena
10 - Newark, NJ - Prudential Center
11 - Norfolk, VA - Norfolk Scope Arena
13 - New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden Arena
14 - Boston, MA - TD Garden
16 - Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center
17 - Washington, DC - Verizon Center
18 - Hartford, CT - XL Center
21 - Boston, MA - TD Garden
31 - Miami, FL - American Airlines Arena
12 - Berlin, Germany - O2 World
14 - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Ahoy Rotterdam
15 - Oberhausen, Germany - Konig-Pilsener Arena
16 - Merksem, Belgium - Sportpaleis Antwerpen
18 - Lyon, France - Halle Tony Garnier
20 - Marseille, France - Le Dome
23 - Strasbourg, France - Zenith
24 - Paris, France - Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy
26 - Manchester, England - Manchester Evening News Arena
27 - Birmingham, England - The NIA
29 - Glasgow, Scotland - S.E.C.C.
30 - Liverpool, England - Liverpool Echo Arena
2, 3 - London, England - The O2 - London
5 - Dublin, Ireland - The O2 Dublin
6 - Belfast, Northern Ireland - Odyssey Arena
17, 18 - London, England - The O2 - London
20 - Manchester, England - Manchester Evening News Arena
23 - Sheffield, England - Motorpoint Arena
24 - Liverpool, England - Liverpool Echo Arena
26, 27 - Dublin, Ireland -The O2 Dublin
15 - Perth, Australia - Burswood Dome
18 - Hindmarsh, Australia - Adelaide Entertainment Centre
19, 20 - Melbourne, Australia - Rod Laver Arena
22 - Newcastle, Australia - Newcastle Entertainment Centre
23, 24 - Sydney, Australia, Acer Arena
26 - Boondall, Australia - Brisbane Entertainment Centre
29 - Auckland, New Zealand - Vector Arena