Usher takes on Vegas with a new residency

Grand Opening Of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Usher performs at the grand opening of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on July 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

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Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

The show takes audiences on a musical tour of Atlanta.

It’s been 30 years since Usher Raymond IV first competed as a 13-year-old on “Star Search.” Now, he gets to headline on his dream stage and bring the ATL along for the ride.

It’s an exciting 90-minute musical celebration that Usher, who now wears an inclining asymmetric haircut, takes great pride in. The superstar kicked off his residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on July 16.

Headlining there on the strip until Jan. 1, 2022, Usher flips through several elaborate costumes, designed by the French luxury fashion house Balmain, while he takes the audience on a musical mystery tour inside the Perimeter. The eight-time Grammy winner collaborated with creative director Simon Hammerstein, recruited producer and DJ Lil Jon as musical director, and brought along two Atlanta-area dancer-choreographers, Josh Smith and Marc Marvelous, to create an immersive, 25-year career retrospective full of his hits, a couple of features, and a few reimagined music videos.

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Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Grand Opening Of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Usher performs at the grand opening of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on July 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Combined ShapeCaption
Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Usher’s New Look, a peer-to-peer network founded 22 years ago that supports developing youth into global leaders, gets $1 for every ticket sold.

“It’s an opportunity to share my culture with Las Vegas and not to try and figure out how to just make a show that fits in,” Usher, now 42, said. “I wanted a show that would break the mold and make people feel like, if they’ve never been to Atlanta, they just got an opportunity to see what it feels like to be in it.”

When Usher takes center stage at the 4,000-seat venue, he comes out from the rear of the crowd, dressed in a glimmering purple ensemble. He breezes through “Caught Up,” “U Don’t Have to Call” and “Love in This Club.”

The multi-hyphenated entertainer laces up roller skates, changes into a bulky gold-studded black leather jacket for “Don’t Waste My Time.” He makes it rain his custom UshBucks on both the audience and some very acrobatic pole dancers during “I Don’t Mind,” “Good Kisser” and “Bad Girl.”

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Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: July 16 2021 Photos By Denise Truscello

July 16 2021 Photos By Denise Truscello

Credit: July 16 2021 Photos By Denise Truscello

Combined ShapeCaption
Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: July 16 2021 Photos By Denise Truscello

Credit: July 16 2021 Photos By Denise Truscello

“This is what happens when you bring ATL to Vegas; it’s what it looks like, baby,” Usher said with a Sammy Davis Jr. tone. “Most of the time when you think of theatrical shows, you think you have to create this imaginary world. It’s already a world that’s created because Atlanta is a melting pot, so to grab all of that nuance and do it in such a way where Las Vegas is introduced to something they’ve never seen is something I’ve always wanted.”

There are recorded snippets of some of his previous guest appearances, such as Chris Brown’s “Party” and Summer Walker’s “Come Thru,” with Usher performing his part live. Usher, who’s sold more than 65 million records worldwide, sifts through his video discography to recreate the burnt orange backdrop during “U Remind Me,” the chair routine from “You Make Me Wanna,” and the laser beams in “Yeah!”

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Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Grand Opening Of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Usher performs at the grand opening of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on July 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Combined ShapeCaption
Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

The ballads — “There Goes My Baby,” “Burn,” “Confessions (Pt. II),” “Bad Habits” and “Climax” — get some shine. Then Usher zooms into space for some intergalactic cosmic slop, wearing a metallic-colored outfit for his fist-pumping anthems “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “OMG” before he closes the evening with “U Got It Bad” and “Without You,” his duet with David Guetta, in a bright pink leisure suit.

Lil Jon punches up each musical sequence with samples from past and present tracks spanning Atlanta’s rich quilt of hip-hop. Also the producer of Usher’s biggest chart topper, “Yeah!,” and the featured singer on his own Top 5 smash hit “Lovers and Friends,” the Vegas mainstay knew the high energy had to come from song sequencing and treating the audience to some new sonic ideas.

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Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Grand Opening Of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Usher performs at the grand opening of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on July 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Combined ShapeCaption
Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

“The goal is to create a non-stop party,” Lil Jon said. “I wanted to take people on a musical journey with hit after hit and no room for them to breathe.”

“I wanted the show to be a party as well as showcase his vocal range,” Jon adds. “Me and the team created some intimate musical moments with new versions of some of his hits that people haven’t heard him perform like he does in the show.”

Usher was originally set to hit Vegas in July 2020 but had to postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic. Comparing his perfectionist attitude to “Army training,” Usher, recently named Remy Martin’s new spokesperson, reveals he spent two years silently working out of Cascade Family Skating to perfect his craft.

“I’m doing things like pilates and yoga to really be able to not hurt myself,” Usher said. “It’s ridiculous, but it’s all for the sake of entertainment. Michael [Jackson], Luther Vandross and all of those guys that wore those incredible outfits in those times, I get it now.

“What they supplied us with is the fantasy, stardom and expectation,” Usher adds. “I wanted to get that and for that to be seen in this Vegas show. If not here, where else? I could do it on tour, but it really works here. I get a chance to go to the other side that I’ve always wanted.”

Usher recently announced he’s expecting his fourth child. There’s also his still untitled ninth studio LP he says is “full of ATL’s finest” coming out next year.

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Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Grand Opening Of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Usher performs at the grand opening of “USHER The Las Vegas Residency” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on July 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Combined ShapeCaption
Usher on-stage at Caesars Palace Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

Credit: Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment

In the meantime, Usher relishes having his bright billboards stretching up and down the Vegas strip. Not only is Vegas his dream come true, Usher’s run at Caesars Palace gives him a platform to showcase the cultural zeitgeist that continues to happen in his hometown.

“It is a labor of love that has really taken 30 years to create,” Usher said.

“I took my time in coming here, could’ve come here a lot earlier, but I really wanted to make sure I had every chapter fulfilled before I had this moment. I’m happy that Atlanta could be a part of that, and I am actually an ambassador in a different way. As I leave Atlanta and go elsewhere, people are getting a glimpse into what Atlanta is on every level.”


IF YOU GO

Usher: The Las Vegas Residency

Through Jan. 1. Tickets start at $59. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. 866-227-5938, ticketmaster.com/ushervegas, caesars.com.