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Concert Reviews:
Usher Woos The Ladies At Fillmore Concert
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK



DETROIT -- The show may have been deemed Ladies Only, but R&B singer Usher had a couple of men on his mind during his One Night Stand concert Wednesday night (Nov. 12) at the Fillmore Detroit.

One, not surprisingly, was president-elected Barack Obama, who Usher vociferously supported during his campaign. "Yes we can!" he exulted after "Seduction," adding "those barriers of segregation have been (eliminated). My blood, your blood -- we're all the same." After the show ended, meanwhile, bits of Obama's election night victory speech played over the P.A.

Another politician, incarcerated former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was also on Usher's radar Wednesday. He made a teasing reference to Kilpatrick during the sultry come-on "Lovers & Friends" but later told the audience that "the whole Kilpatrick thing is just a joke. It's all good...he's coming back...even stronger. Make sure he knows I said that."

Those moments aside, Usher's primary interest was pleasing the female populace of his fan base at this particular show, a nearly two-hour, career-spanning affair that brought the onetime arena-filler into the intimate confines of the Fillmore -- which did not sell out due to initially high (later reduced) ticket prices and confusion about whether men could come to the show. The dudes were there, but they weren't the ones Usher was playing for.

Emerging on a heavily curtained stage in a white-jacketed tuxedo shades and crooning "Forever Young," Usher asked the Fillmore crowd for "one promise...what happens here stays here." He then took things up for a minute, cavorting with his four dancers during "Love in This Club," before settling into a smoother New Jack groove with "Follow Me," "U Remind Me," the Minneapolis-styled "This Ain't Sex" and "That's What It's Made For." There were screams every time he removed an article of clothing -- a jacket, a vest, a shirt -- and they grew to ear-splitting levels when his tank top came off to reveal a ripped and sculpted torso at the end of the set.

With Usher fully dressed again and playing a grand piano, "Trading Places," was an elaborate production number during which the singer was undressed and re-dressed again by the two female dancers, one of whom he "seduced" atop the piano. For "Superstar" he brought a fan named Renee on stage for an even more intimate encounter, serving her champagne and strawberries and singing to her while she sat on his lap.

During the rest of the show Usher sampled his rash of hits -- from early favorites such as "You Make Me Wanna" and "Nice & Slow" to "My Boo" and the emotive title track of his latest album, "Here I Am" -- and paid homage to some of his heroes with snippets of Prince's "Do Me, Baby," Stevie Wonder's "Rocket Love" and Marvin Gaye's "I Want You." He also gave a shout-out to Detroit rapper T-Baby by sampling a bit of her "It's So Cold in the D."

There were segments that felt flabby (the show could've been tightened by a good 10-20 minutes), but upbeat turns on "I Don't Know," "Yeah!" and the encore "Caught Up" were deployed carefully enough to pick up the flow. And on a night they could see Usher up close, personal and shirtless -- twice, no less -- the ladies were not complaining at all.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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