Back in January I attended the least organised concert I've ever had the pleasure of going to. Quite frankly, Drake's 'Nightmare and Light Dreams Tour' at the shabby Hammersmith Apollo was a rabble. Despite having arrived within an hour of the doors opening, I managed to get to the front, ahead of those queuing hours before me. It was simple a case of: the doors opening,people applying pressure, barriers giving way, me barging, security vanishing, man strewn on the floor, people walking over him, me at the front, sorted.
Drake rocked the crowd with every performance. He was totally engaging and perceptive towards his audiences demands. Mirroring Jay-z, Drizzy took time to shout out individual audience members, including a very hot woman he was planning on “fucking the shit out of”. Hysterical females even got a taster of the 'Drizzy-Three Stroke', however I feel we could have done without the removal of his shirt. Drake is clearly not a fan of the gym. The night was an outstanding experience. From the frantic pre-concert events, the long anticipation, the amazing show, and then the post concert kebab. It felt very authentic.
Fast forward to two weeks ago and we get to the Usher 'O.M.G Tour' at London's plush 02 arena. This was organised to military precision so we queued for no more than 10 mins. We'd even been emailed a schedule telling us we would sit through Tinchy Stryder before Usher . Drake gave us J.Cole! The sitting really
annoyed me pissed me off. Having always stood at concerts, including two Kanye West tours in the same arena, I assumed the fact that I bought floor tickets again meant I'd be standing again. Clearly not, they had manufactured seats into the floor space.
Good is probably the best way to describe this show. To me, it was a constant battle between the excellent and the average. Usher emerging from a platform at the rear of the stage and performing 'Monstar' whilst levitating towards the stage= excellent. Usher doing yet another tribute to Michael Jackson=average (God forgive me). Usher taking it back to '8701' and 'Confessions' days=excellent. Usher performing a half-backed version of 'Hot Toddy' and that Latvian Euro-vision entry 'DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love Again' =average.
I'm very glad I went though. Usher was on stage for longer than any other artist I've seen on tour, performing around 25 songs. He wore an array of outfits to match the narrative . Moreover, there was choreography to almost every song. For the ladies, he took of his shirt once or twice. For the men, he had some lovely women on-stage, including one exceedingly beautiful fan. His performance to 'O.M.G' was the single best performance I've witnessed. Usher toyed with the audience when wishing us a good night then escaping the dimly lit stage only to return in 5 minutes and perform 'O.M.G' in a crisp white suit with a red pocket square and fedora. He really did go out with a seismic bang, showering those on the floor space with ticker tape and sparks. Although the fact that people left thinking he could've concluded the 'O.M.G Tour' without performing the title track did slightly confuse me.
However most positives were skewed for some reason . Whilst he did perform 25 songs, he didn't manage to squeeze in timeless classic 'U Got it Bad' or 'Moving Mountains' the sole banger from what was a disappointing album. The costume changes were cool, but when they came after every other song they did detract from what were solid performances. As for the latino 'fan' plucked from the audience, this lady was almost certainly not an average concert-goer. When serenaded by this mega superstar she didn't seem at all surprised,didn’t shed a tear, didn't flinch, wasn't excited and didn't cling on to him. The attempt to dress up this pre-picked model as an average fan may have succeeded had they told her to remove the blue VIP pass from her wrist.
Yet again, I would like say this concert was good, and probably worth the fee. Usher's an incredible artist and remains the No.1 RnB crooner in my eyes. However this show just felt a bit sterile. Unlike Drake, he didn't even attempt to pretend the London crowd was better than those in Birmingham or Manchester. The seats took away the intimacy I'm used to, and I couldn't get the customary post-concert kebab I could in Hammersmith. Drake managed to tick all the boxes without any of Ushers theatrics so I'll more than likely go to another concert of his. As for Usher, I'll have to give it serious thought before parting with my cash again.