Fifteen star-packed minutes: R&B singer Usher turns Super Bowl concert into an exciting, fast-paced medley show

The 45-year-old American R&B star Usher has given exactly one hundred shows in Las Vegas in 2022 and 2023. Are My Way: The Vegas Residency was a consistently sold-out spectacle that was extended twice. But his biggest Las Vegas show was yet to come: the prestigious concert show during the 58th Super Bowl, the grand final of the American football competition. He left no doubt on Sunday night how much he felt at home in Las Vegas – although he didn’t perform anything from his ninth album, released last week Coming Home.

Usher moonwalking on roller skates, the twenty-year-old love duet ‘My Boo’ again with singer Alicia Keys, a marching band that formed the letters of his name on the field and of course the crooning of the singer in bare bark; these were striking moments during the Halftime show, at two o’clock on Sunday night.

Groovy confession

As soon as the football players left the field, the field in Allegiant Stadium was quickly transformed into an endless mega stage. In a light show that extended to the stadium rings, Usher Raymond (1978), accompanied by musicians, many types of dancers, acrobats, stilt walkers and pole dancers, turned the hit carousel as an accomplished super performer: from slowly foaming slow jams, his grooving confession about adultery to the uptempo in the funk and soul rooted dancebangers with excited rap cries.

The Usher show was an exciting, packed fifteen minutes with dynamic group choreography and live singing, although not all technology was at its best. As expected, it was another smooth, lightning-fast medley show as we have experienced in recent years from artists such as Justin Timberlake or Jennifer Lopez. In an artistic sense this did not yield any special results. But the hopping through time by this versatile, seasoned showman was especially cheerful.

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The now 45-year-old singer, who has been performing since he was fifteen, is clearly in great shape. Easily and almost carelessly skimming over the beat, he glided and turned across the stage. The camera sometimes zoomed in specifically on his fast, fierce footwork. The R&B music movement may be popular in waves, but its songs have never lost their appeal – everything from ‘Caught Up’ onwards was sung along loudly.

The most endearing moment was the arrival of contemporary Alicia Keys, a surprise in a red glitter catsuit at an equally bright red piano. After some shaky first notes of her ‘If It Ain’t Got You’, Usher nicely joined her in second voice. The subsequent sweet duet ‘My Boo’ brought back the innocence of that time: the two young, recently broken-through artists achieved a number 1 hit with it.

Roller skates

Usher, who was now bathed in sweat, then shared the stage with many guests: musical partner Jermain Dupri assisted him for ‘Confessions Part II’, and artist HER’s extended guitar solo gave Usher enough time for a change of clothes and putting on his roller skates. The very skilled dancing to it in ‘Oh My Gosh’ was accompanied by meaningless raps from ‘Turn Down for What’ gained more weight with the arrival of rapper Lil Jon plus an audience. The finale, Usher’s biggest hit ‘Yeah’, became the culmination of all the energy, pumped up by the dozens of tubas in the marching band on the field.

This Super Bowl match was certainly surrounded by stardust, with a lot of attention paid to pop sensation Taylor Swift, who had rushed back from shows in Japan, cheering in the VIP box for her winning friend on the field, player Travis Kelce of the winning Kansas City Chiefs. But artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande were also spotted. Before the match, Post Malone accompanied himself on guitar a surprisingly transporting folk version of ‘America The Beautiful’

Dutch DJ Tiësto was supposed to play during the match, but was absent due to urgent family circumstances. And striking: the commercial break around the Super Bowl, and later during Usher’s show, seemed to be the best moments for singer Beyoncé to announce her new album (March 29, Act II). Two songs, ‘Texas Holdem’ and ’16 Carriages’, immediately appeared on streaming services.