Usher is going to Vegas!
The eight-time Grammy Award winner is embarking on a 12-date residency at The Colosseum beginning July 16, 2021 and running until Jan. 1, 2022.
“I cannot wait to perform for an audience,” Usher says in an exclusive interview with Billboard. “In Vegas, I get a chance to create the show that I want, and I get a chance to be with my fans who’ve been cooped up for months and months.”
While the show promoted by Live Nation and Caesars Entertainment is still in creative development, the multi-hyphenate performer whose career spans 20 years promises an immersive experience designed for the Las Vegas audience highlighting early records, recent songs and new music. For Usher’s audience, this represents a special opportunity to see him as the venue is an “intimate” 4,300 seats and he normally plays arenas.
“This is a real treat because it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything quite like this. You have benchmarks, right? You want to have your record played on the radio and then go on to win a Grammy. Vegas was always a benchmark for me that I couldn’t wait to be able to do,” Usher says. “ I can pull from all of the things that I’ve done— a little bit of acting, a little bit of personality, a little bit of music, dance. I can be more intimate than I’ve ever been with my audience, allowing people to come in and feel a different level of connection to the songs. Las Vegas is all about really shining it up.”
He also hopes to shed light on the technical intricacies that go into his performances—exploring meaning through movement, wardrobe, lighting and storytelling.
“If you want to just hear the songs, you can play them. But to take people deeper into the songs and give them a viewpoint they didn’t have, or maybe they might have overlooked and missed—that’s what my focus is. I really want to bring you through the experience of what the music means,” Usher says. “I’ve done a lot of research around immersive experiences all around the world. I traveled to Paris, London, Germany, and New York City, the South and also Los Angeles to really understand the nuances of immersive experiences.”
Conversations for the multidate engagement began in February when Usher flew to Vegas thinking he was going to have some fun and it turned into an offer of a lifetime.
“We get on a plane to slide down to Las Vegas—it’s not unusual to go from L.A. and just have a weekend. First of all, we go to Nobu at Caesars, and we have a really great dinner and it’s a group of friends. Some who are new and some who are known,” Usher says. “Then, we go on this long, winding walk in a tunnel through the entire hotel and we end up in a boardroom. All of a sudden, [executives from Caesars and Live Nation] explain exactly why [they brought me here] and what I’ve been looking at the entire time—I just wanted to get a chance to see the back of the house. They were like, ‘we want you to put together a residency.’ I was over the moon.”
It all sank in when he stepped on the stage of The Colosseum—a dream come true moment for the singer, songwriter, actor and dancer. “I was walking around coming up with ideas. It was amazing,” he says. The theater is also home to residences by Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Sting.
Right after this highest of highs, came the shutdown of the entertainment industry and like everyone else, he hit pause. The “Caught Up” singer shares that 2020 has given him the opportunity to peel back the layers of his creative process. “When you aren’t able to move around and do shows and interact, it changes the dynamic of how you create music and how you create intellectual property,” he explains. “I would say the one great benefit is that I feel more connected. I feel more empathetic, as far as some of the things that I chose to write about, songs that I chose to offer to the world. I feel I was able to better myself.”
Usher’s clearly a betting man, because planning a residency amid a pandemic is nothing BUT a gamble. Vegas should suit him well.