For nearly two hours -- without intermission or even a water break -- Usher delivered a high-energy concert Sunday at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The event streamed on the Live Nation channel on Yahoo Screen included dozens of hits from his catalog that spans 20 years. Still at the top his game, the veteran entertainer sounded great, nailed his choreography, and even played the drums.
While Usher plays drums in the music video for his song "Good Kisser," it was still a treat to see the pop star demonstrate his percussion skills during the live stream. For many of his female fans, especially, his song "Bad Girl" was a highlight. He began the song asking all the "bad girls" to make some noise. The piercing screams from the audience confirmed that vixens turned out in big numbers. Near the song's end, he surprised the crowd when he took a seat behind the drum kit and began to show off his chops. Primarily known for his singing and dancing, Usher earned instant props as a musician. After a few moments, the intensity heightened when he stood to remove his tank top, only to sit back down to begin drumming the opening to "Good Kisser."
James Brown was clearly on Usher's mind Sunday. When performing "Twisted," a '60s styled soul record that takes cues from Brown's music, Usher channeled some of the late Godfather of Soul's footwork. Usher showed even more influences from Brown minutes later when delivering new track "She Came to Give It to You" that included a segment where Usher did a Brown "1, 2, 3" countdown and dropped into the splits. He even acknowledged Brown before singing "Without You," the last song of the night. After learning about Michael Jackson's music, Usher said he researched Brown. "I began to study other artists [like] James Brown, Jackie Wilson and so many incredible musicians and found my way to my voice," he told the crowd.
Earlier in the show, Usher mixed things up when played "U Remind Me," one of his first pop hits. He traded the original, playful melody for a more smooth and jazzy version that sounded like a completely different song.
He also impressed viewers when he belted his heart-wrenching ballad "Burn." He eventually stopped the music to sing the song a cappella in a moving call-in-response tradeoff with the audience.
Though Usher has the support of an incredibly talented band, background dancers, singers, and computer generated special effects, he is engaging enough to pull off a one-man show. His only down time was during the few moments he took to intro a song.
The set featured all of his biggest records dating back to his official first release "Think of You," his first top 10 track "You Make Me Wanna," "Yeah," "Nice & Slow," "Confessions Part 1," "I Need A Girl," "There Goes My Baby," "My Boo," and more.