Usher took the stage at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday. The singer opened the show with “Caught Up.” He then transitioned into a slew of his biggest hits including, “U Don’t Have to Call,” “My Boo” and “Burn.”
He brought in numerous guest performers, including Alicia Keys, H.E.R., will.i.am, Lil Jon and Ludacris.At one point, Usher came out in a sparkly outfit as back-up performers rollerbladed around him and will.i.am during their performance of “OMG. He finished the Halftime Show with “Yeah!” and a tribute to Atlanta.
Usher is no stranger to Las Vegas, where the Super Bowl is being held. He recently finished a 100-show residency at the Dolby Live at Park MGM. Allegiant Stadium holds approximately 65,000 people, but in that instant, there were only two. It was one of the quietest sequences in halftime history, a remarkable testament to the gifts of Usher, a performer of precise detail who is enjoyed best with rapt attention.
Most of the rest of the performance — which touched on more than a dozen songs — was grander in scale, designed to fill a football field: A small-bore, granular-gestured showcase gave way to an explosive party. But what this set did so well was make plain that Usher’s commitment to minutiae and his capacity for grandeur are fired in the same cauldron. He can control the stage when it is packed to the gills, and he can do it alone.
Usher, 45, is a showman with his voice, to be sure, but also — and maybe more so — with his body and his feet. From the opening, the telecast was careful not to waste any of his movements, the camera resting on him as he worked through careful footwork and body-bending routines. The fact that he was doing many of these moves on grass, especially in the first segment — “Caught Up,” “U Don’t Have to Call” — was especially impressive.
He began with dance-centric hits with indelible opening lines, took a brief spoken interlude to acknowledge God and his mother, then offered a sprinkle of the ballad “Superstar” before being joined, loudly, by a marching band on “Love in This Club.” Keys’s subsequent set piece ended with the two vocalists singing “My Boo” while tenderly sashaying.
Then the transition to party mode began. The Atlanta producer Jermaine Dupri did some crowd warm-up work before Usher delivered “Confessions Part II,” one of the most upbeat songs about sexual infidelity in pop history. After a brief detour through “Nice & Slow” (with a brief acknowledgment of the song’s recent afterlife as a meme) and the saucily urgent “Burn,” he came to “U Got It Bad,” in which he did an extended dance routine with an agreeable microphone stand.
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