Unless they’d done some furious Googling beforehand (guilty) or already experienced the off Broadway play Fuerza Bruta: Look Up, it’s safe to say the crowd (including Justin Bieber) knew little about what was in store Friday night (April 27) at NYC’s Daryl Roth Theater. The end result: something of a Cirque du Soleil meets Ibiza rave billed as a “listening experience” and starring Usher and his super solid, definitely better than Raymond V Raymond dance-R&B-fused seventh album Looking For Myself.
It’s an apt title for a performance art centric display that called for the audience to participate, gawk, crane their necks and interpret giggling, loose-limbed dancers. The show kicked off with Usher on a treadmill, clad in a Travolta-looking suit, taking long strides and then running (and then dancing!), OK Go style, amidst a confetti snowstorm. Then he gets shot. No one cares what it means; it just seems right at the time.
To make a long story short, the highlights: (1) a sweaty Ursh fist pumping in the middle of the crowd and getting body to body with chicks. (2) Mid-show, a seemingly Plexiglas H20-drenched ceiling descending from above as several skimpily clad dancers, mostly women, glide atop its surface like giddy kids. A flabbergasted guy nearby: “It's like a fucking Slip and Slide!” Unfortunately, no crowd participation ☹.
Theatrics weren’t needed to showcase Usher’s pretty good album, in stores June 12, but it certainly added a level of depth to an atmospheric body of work that finds equilibrium in Euro R&B and, like, actual traditional R&B (the “Nice & Slow” type). Although it is dance heavy, there's thankfully not too much blatant “OMG” forced pandering, which for an Usher fan is awesome. Ursh already had his commercial comeback with "OMG," but Looking For Myself should help him reclaim some of his R&B faithfuls. —Clover Hope
Song Highlights (They didn’t give us a track listing, so titles are assumed)
>>“Climax” – You’ve heard it. Falsetto bliss
>>“Looking For Myself” – The buoyant title track about soul searching and soulmate seeking: “I’m looking for myself/And I still can’t find me/I said I’m looking for myself/Who am I? Someone remind me/I’m looking for myself/All my life I’m searching/I’m looking for myself/And somehow I ran right into you”
>>“Let Me See,” feat. Rick Ross – A “Motivation”-esque bedroom knocker co-starring Usher’s falsetto (“She say she wanna take her skirt off… be my guest”) and the Bawssse (“The 458 Ferrari, I park it on the lawn”)
>>“Twisted” – Funky drum-driven ditty Janelle Monáe would rock out perfectly on
>>“Scream” – The Pauly D-approved pulsater finds Usher pop-locking in that pesky dance lane that draws in dollars. It’s good, not great.
>>“Wet” – This right here’s a panty-dropper [UPDATE: A label rep for Usher tells us the title of this song is "Dive"]
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