Usher turns up the heat in Connecticut

A review of Usher at MGM Grand at Foxwoods Casino on November 8

, Contributing Writer

Usher’s sultry stage antics had the ladies screaming louder for his striptease than for his songs at MGM Grand at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut on Friday night. He probably wouldn’t have had to sing a note, and the girls still would have paid the $100 (and those were the cheap seats), just to see him take his shirt off.

But, of course, his singing was phenomenal as well as his at times erotic dancing. It would be a difficult call to say which of those skills he was better at, and the wishful women in attendance could only surmise how the other talent he was hinting at all night would measure up to the first two.

The show was part of Usher’s 14-city One Night Stand Tour advertised as, "Ladies Only". As the crowd made its way through the casino and into the theater, it was obvious it was definitely girls’ night out. Dressed in tiny dresses, high heels, low-cut shirts and lacquered-on pants the ladies were looking good for Usher, whether he was going to see them in their mezzanine-level seats or not.

Usher entered the stage about 20 minutes after the scheduled start time of 9pm (Note: you don’t have to be prompt for a One Night Stand) dressed in a full tuxedo. He sang a bit of an intro and asked the audience, "Where we at Connecticut?" The audience let him know they were right there and ready.

He sang "Love in this Club", his first single from his 2008 album Here I Stand, as his two female backup dancers worked the stage and him. He followed it up with "Follow Me" during which the jacket, to the screams and squeals of the crowd, came off.

The audience eagerly sang every word to "U Remind Me", and he unbuttoned his vest garnering more screams. During the next song he removed his cufflinks, and afterwards warned, "This is the part of the show where we turn it up a little."

During "U Got it Bad" and "Trading Places" his vest and white dress shirt came off with the help of a dancer. Things got really scandalous when he laid one of the dancers on the white piano in the center of the stage. She twisted and shifted her limbs and torso in suggestive angles. He lifted her off the piano and, as he sat on its bench, onto his lap where her dancing didn’t stop. Needless to say, the show wasn’t short on provocative creativity.

Things cooled down a bit after that, and Usher put a robe on to entertain in. Throughout the show he rapped a smidgen, played a little piano, and danced and sang a ton. His popping was as smooth as his falsettos, and his lines may have been even smoother yet. One lucky audience member got a chance to see up close just how smooth he could be.

"There’s somebody out there I gotta take my time with tonight," Usher told the eager audience. He said he was looking for his Number One, and that he was going to do it a little different tonight: "I’m gonna come down and find her."

Usher got off the stage and walked among the audience ladies, but promised one guy, "Don’t worry, Player; I won’t take your girl…Unless you want me to take your girl." After getting a lot of girls’ hopes up, he chose one ecstatic lady to follow him on the stage. From there, he paraded her around, sang to her, hugged her and fed her chocolate-covered strawberries. Most of the crowd was sharing this experience vicariously, and judging by their cheering, Usher did everything right.

There was a bit of an intermission after this performance and Usher’s DJ spun a mix that kept the place energized via Al Green and Beyonce.

Usher returned to the stage for more, the choreography was always entertaining, even when it wasn’t seductive. During "You Make Me Wanna…" he was accompanied by his two male backup dancers and the three did a seamless dance routine using suitcases as props. At one point the DJ put on some of Usher’s records as he sang and danced along to a little medley.

Laser lights, mirroring the ones in the video, illuminated the stage for "Yeah", which brought the house to its feet as Usher jumped down to the floor and stood on one of the seats to be in the midst of it. From there he sang some of the song, but made it back to the stage in time to do the muscle and thunder clap along with the audience.

After this Usher began his farewell, "You all are an incredible crowd tonight. It’s been so long since I’ve been up here." He went on to say how much he appreciated the crowd, with a "Bless you. I love you." Yeah, he lays on it on thick, but no one seemed to mind, not one bit.

The audience began to filter out, but Usher came back to finish it out with "Caught Up", which stopped the departing guests in the aisles, and many returned to their seats to get their last drop. After the song, he introduced his team, took a bow with the dancers and departed the stage. A medley of music and Barack Obama’s election-night speech played for the guests as they made their exit, for real this time, with more than Usher’s music stuck in their heads.

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