Usher Woos The Ladies With Rugged R&B in New York

November 4, 2008 11:16 AM ET

"My beautiful ladies, I brought you here for one reason," Usher announced early in his show at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom Monday night. Judging from the giddy shrieks he received in response, it was clear that most of the ladies in the audience had a pretty good idea what that reason was. For those still unsure, Usher was happy to specify: "A one night stand."

Over the last 14 years, Usher has gradually transformed from adorable teenager to slow-smoldering sex symbol, he of the impossible abs and irresistible grin. Though his current tour is hopefully billed the "Ladies Only" tour, there were a handful of gentlemen in attendance, most of whom seemed to be reaping the benefits of Usher's affable wooing. Clearly modeled after the kind of bedroom revues that Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass consistently delivered in the '70s, the show was refreshingly short on spectacle and long on showmanship. Dressed for most of the evening in a white dinner jacket and dark sunglasses, Usher and his five-piece backing band transformed his catalog of slow jams into one long quiet storm. His voice was remarkable, clean and steady and sturdy, and he spent much of the evening alternating personas between amiable emcee and old-time crooner.

None of that could last for long, though. During "Trading Places," a randy dancer in black-and-pink lingerie emerged from the wings to forecefully peel the jacket â€" then the vest, then the shirt â€" from Usher's body, a favor he returned by draping her across the top of his white grand piano. A bit later in the night, Usher pulled a woman from the audience, removed his shirt and proceeded to teasingly feed her chocolate-covered strawberries. "Tonight," he announced, "you're representing all of these ladies out here," he announced. Surely the women in the audience who weren't a half-inch from Usher's bare chest appreciated her taking one for the team.

Set list:
"Love in this Club"
"Follow Me"
"U Remind Me"
"This Ain't Sex"
"That's What It's Made For"
"You Got it Bad"
"Trading Places"
"Do Me, Baby" / "Adore"
"Nice 'N Slow"
"Dot Com"
"Bad Girl"
"You Make Me Wanna"
"I Don't Know"
"I Want You"
"Confessions Part 2"
"Medley" ("My Boo" / "Back in the Day" / "Think of You" / "I Need a Girl" / "Can U Get Wit It" / "Lovers & Friends")
"That's What It's Made For"
"Here I Stand"

"Caught Up"

Related Stories:
Usher Kicks Off NFL Season
Usher Tops the Charts
Cover Story: Usher's Wild Ride

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »