Usher’s UR Experience Is Kind of Awkward, but Still Awesome

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Nov. 22


Photo by Glenn Brogan

There’s no doubting Usher’s success. In his 20-year career, the R&B mainstay has released seven studio albums and won eight Grammys. But on his UR Experience tour stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena, the 36-year-old took awhile to find his footing.

The first third of the set suffered from ill-suited musical arrangements and a dizzying excess of backup dancers. Usher’s vocals were drowned out by brass on club banger “OMG,” while the uptempo tale of love lost, “U Remind Me” just sounded dreary. It wasn’t until the standout “Climax” that the show felt well orchestrated. Usher belted the ballad solo in front of dreamy screen visuals and atop rising platforms. From there, he shuffled through a retrospective of chart-toppers. He time-traveled from the innocence of “My Boo” to his newest single, “I Don’t Mind,” during which Usher playfully doused the front rows with dollar bills. The music veteran further solidified his relevance performing his feature verses from the concurrent Top 40 hits “Body Language” and “New Flame.” And his dance moves: pops, locks and smooth glides, were always on point. Despite a rough start, the production succeeded in giving fans a chance to see the crooner unleash the moves and voice that stole our hearts decades ago. ★★★✩✩

Photos by Glenn Brogan