Saturday, July 10, 2010


Manila gets ‘caught up’ by Usher
by Rowena Joy A. Sanchez

Imagine if R&B superstar Usher stayed in the Philippines all year round to perform night after night for his fans. It was him who actually said he would if he could, to the estimated 30,000 crowd who enveloped the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds last July 9 like a spirited sea for his first concert here in the country. Oh, aren’t we honored?

But even if the Philippines wouldn’t have Usher nights the whole year, his concert is enough of a treasure for the fans. He was unstoppable in his dancing, his singing…and his playful teasing to the ladies. Usher clearly showed that he wasn’t dubbed as the heir to Michael Jackson for nothing.

His 22-song (including those sung in medleys) set was composed mostly of his hits from then until now, opening with one of his hit dance tunes, “Caught Up.” Fans yearning to hear his "classics" were not disappointed, as they gamely sang along to “You Remind Me,” “Nice and Slow,” “Confessions,” “You Got It Bad,” “Burn,” “My Boo,” and “Lovers and Friends,” and grooving to ditties like “Yeah” and “You Don’t Have To Call.” Usher was impressed with his audience, clapping his hands and uttering at one point, “You guys are really good singers.”

Usher’s sexy yet solid vocals were admirable, but the real treat was seeing the dance moves he did in his music videos live. Choreography obviously was inspired by the King of Pop’s signature moves. Usher’s favorite seemed to be the crotch grab, which was used the most number of times.

His energy was unbelievable, singing and dancing at the same time. Noticeably, though, there were some parts particularly during the second half of his show wherein he wasn't really singing, but recorded vocals can be heard (like how it sounded on his CDs). Perhaps this was done so he could concentrate on his dancing. However, this left us somehow wanting to hear more as much as we were seeing more through his superb dancing.

Usher may not have spiels prior to each and every performance, but he sure took the time to express his love for the fans. “I’m thankful and I appreciate each and everyone of you. I love you,” he said, eliciting squeals which can only come from the ladies in the audience.

For someone who has not a few “naughty” songs, the “naughtiness” during the concert was inevitable. Usher, during one number, looked to have “made little love” with his mic stand. He also teased fans with a few abs exposures and even asked them at one point, “do you want me to take it off?” pertaining to his clothing. “There might be a law against it; I don’t know if this is the right thing to do,” he joked.

What could well be considered as the most special part of the night was the original song Usher performed with his audience. He began with beat boxing, then guided his band and the fans to the melody and lyrics of the song. The recurrent lyrics were: “Alright…I’m having the time of my life!” It was a unique and total performance, with Usher rapping on some parts and dancing as well.

Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete if he didn’t sing his newer hits “Love In This Club,” “Hey Daddy” (which he began with Lionel Richie’s “Hello”), and his chart-topping club favorite, the encore “OMG.” And to promote his sixth album, “Raymund vs. Raymund,” Usher also performed two songs from it, namely “There Goes My Baby” and “She Don’t Know.”

The whole concert lasted for more than two hours, including performances from front acts South Border, Nina, and Kris Lawrence, who all delivered energized numbers.

Fans screamed “more!” after Usher exited the stage. Although he didn’t come back for one more number, he promised before leaving that there is no way he wouldn’t come back to the Philippines. We will be waiting.

Postscript: Star-studded!

Usher wasn’t the only star who was on the Concert Grounds last Saturday. His show was attended by lots of celebrities. Spotted during the event were the following:

Brothers Rayver and Rodjun Cruz, Angel Locsin, Bubbles Paraiso, sisters Ehra and Michelle Madrigal, Sam Concepcion, Luigi Muhlach, Andi Manzano, Janno Gibbs and Bing Loyzaga with daughters, Keanna Valenciano, Robin Nievera, engaged couple Prisicilla Meirelles and John Estrada, rumored couple Daiana Menezes and Sam YG, couple Paolo Contis and Lian Paz, Magalona siblings Elmo and Maxene, Nina, soon-to-be married Oyo Boy Sotto and Kristine Hermosa, Lovi Poe, Chavit Singson, Megan Young, Ruffa and Raymond Gutierrez, Georgina Wilson, Solenn Heusaff, Ruby Rodriguez, Pauleen Luna, Vicki Belo, Patrick Garcia, Enchong Dee, and Amy Perez.