Usher spent a well documented few days sightseeing in Dublin before his performance in the 3 Arena last Friday. We know from Instagram that his tour of the capital included a coffee break in Indigo and Cloth and a trip to the Storehouse for a few pints of Guinness. When showtime arrived, the R&B superstar ran around the stage with the energy of a five year old on a sugar high; no sign of the previous night’s ‘black stuff’ slowing him down.
The show unfortunately begins with the rather unexciting, euro-trance tune Euphoria, though the flames, lights and uber-flexible dancers succeed in turning an otherwise lacklustre song into quite the performance. OMG ramps things up a few notches as the four piece dancing brass band and back up dancers — who appear to be half-human, half-elastic — prance around Usher.
The emphasis throughout the first few tracks is heavily on the production and dancing elements, which don’t particularly highlight the silky caramel infused vocals the superstar is known for.
This issue is rectified in the next phase of the set where U Remind Me, Caught Up and Confessions are highlights. The real crowning moment of this section is the medley of My Boo (a duet originally recorded with Alicia Keys), Bad Girl and I Need A Girl showing off the singer’s honeyed vocals and leaving us in now doubt that Usher really is an outstanding R&B singer.
Delightfully, this trend continues with one of the biggest breakup anthems of the 2000s; Burn. With the audience encouraged to take out their phones, the arena is lit up by thousands of bright lights as Usher croons away “When I’m hurting, Baby. I ain’t happy, Baby” . We hear you, bro.
Just when everyone’s convinced there couldn’t possibly be any more Usher songs, he strikes again with Bad Girl, DJ Got Us Falling in Love and club anthem extraordinaire Yeah!. The David Guetta collaboration Without You is reserved for the encore and at this point only the dads who accompanied their young daughters remain seated.
The set is almost two hours from start to finish and contains some brilliant old school favourites. At times there are slight inconsistencies between segments of the show and the transitions lack fluidity. In particular, the contrast between the new dance tracks and the older R&B tunes are quite jarring.
All in all, though, this is a show worthy of a global arena tour status and boasts impressive production elements, great dancers and a top notch professional R&B showman.