Usher did his thing Friday (Sept. 16) night in honor of his eighth studio album, Hard II Love, dropping.
The music OG performed at an exclusive iHeartRadio album release listening party on behalf of the new project and it was definitely a night to remember.
Let's start off by saying that the evening was just gorgeous. When I realized the Ursher-Baby would be performing with a beautiful body of water behind him, I knew that calling this show an "experience" would be an understatement.
I got more excited for what the night was going to bring when I saw just how eager Usher's fans were, too. He'll always be their boo -- and they wanted to see him badly! Lucky for them, the concert began in no time.
The opening act, Alzo and Maurice Slade of Grits & Biscuits, warmed up the crowd first. Their set definitely had partygoers in the zone before their idol came out onstage. Not too long afterward, the lights dimmed and the beat started to bump. So, you knew it was about to go down.
Doing it real bossed-up style, Usher arrived on a boat. YES, A BOAT. When he first walked out onstage, the superstar greeted the crowd and proceeded to give everyone watching him life.
Before I even arrived, I had already listened to his new album. So luckily, I was able to fall in love with his new tracks and then take everything in when he performed them live.
Usher started his set off with "I Need You" and "Missin' You." Their smooth beats made these two songs the perfect ones to ease on into things. Afterward, Usher decided that it was time to step it up a notch and perform "No Limit." Of course, he had the certified dance moves to go along with his sick vocals, and the song's "turn up" vibe.
Next came "Bump" -- which happens to be one of my favorite songs on Hard II Love, followed by "Rivals" and "Downtime." A couple more songs that I adore from his new project are "FWM," "Tell Me, and "Stronger." ("Tell Me" earlier had me in the iHeartRadio offices in my feelings when I couldn't get over how incredible it was, causing my coworkers to worry about my well-being each time I heard one of Usher's high notes on it.)
Now, I'm not going to list every single new song that Usher sang because that's boring. But what I will do is say that each and every track that I heard on this new project was amazing.
It's very hard to find an album that has great songs from top to bottom. But, that's exactly what Hard II Love is. So, when Usher was performing the tracks, I couldn't help but give him his props for consistently giving the world music that surpasses seasons, phases or trends: Usher's music stays timeless.
Also, the fact that Usher's music never gets tired is the reason there were so many different types of people at the show, and from all age groups. Usher Milly rocked like a real one for the young people in the audience and also commanded the stage like only a veteran in the game knows how to do, by making people watching him feel an emotional connection. This attraction was very noticeable as I observed as many people as I could've from above.
Usher's fans were completely tuned into him and they didn't want to let go. And only an artist who understands his/her fans and feels a connection with them can do what Usher did next...
A man next to me -- mind you, no where near the stage -- kept telling his friend next to him that he wanted Usher to perform some previous hits from his VERY extensive catalogue. I can assume that other audience members were wishing this, too. So, what did Usher do?
He felt this desire and began singing some older hits -- unscheduled, might I add -- like "You Got It Bad," "Caught Up," "Bad Girl," and "Without You." Ursher-Baby came through for his day ones!
Another great moment from the show was when he was discussing emotion and love. "We gotta love again," Usher said when speaking about the songs on his new album.
Whether a fan is thinking about loving a significant other or family member/friend, has experienced losing someone they loved by breaking up or passing, or communities coming together to stop hateful acts on others who are different; LOVE was the message Usher wanted to express. After all, Hard II Love is the name of the new album. In a world where it seems so hard to find and spread it, why not bring some attention to its necessity?
All in all, Hard II Love is now available for purchase, but it definitely wasn't hard to love this show. Shoutout to you, Usher. You're the realest. See you soon at the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Festival. We can't wait for you to show us some more love in Vegas!
Photos: Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio