I scurried up to The Warfield on Market Street at about 5:35 p.m. after haphazardly (and luckily) climbing two random buses to get there.
I waited patiently outside (in the ass cold) for my credentials to shoot the Usher meet and greet, which is why I was there so early. Looking around, I saw a couple different lines formed behind faux "barricades" along the sidewalk.
The meet and greet didn't start until 6:30 p.m., and folks had clearly been waiting for a good while - anything to meet ol' Usher Raymond, eh?
Giggly chit-chatter filled the halls of the Warfield as the eager fans made their way in and formed yet another line to check-in inside, and then another final line to walk up and strike a pose with the man of the hour.
Teenagers, as well as men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s all smiled from ear to ear as they shook hands and took a couple snaps with Usher. A young boy dipped down his shades as a mini Usher-in-training, while teenage girls left the meet and greet area screeching and flailing about, "I love you Usher! Oh my God, oh my God. I love you!!!"
Throughout the event, Usher warmly smiled and even briefly chatted up a few fans.
Let's not get it twisted, though; the tour is titled, "One Night Stand: For Ladies Only." At one point I almost asked someone, like an idiot, if really only women were allowed to the show. Yeahhh. Anyway.
While the meet and greet crowd may have been somewhat diverse, the auditorium was indeed filled with throngs of young women, many being teens.
A few couples floated about, a male here and there amidst a sea of females, and some specks of 30-somethings. Surprisingly, not very many 20-somethings were at the show at all.
The grandiose curtains drop - and lord are these young women screaming. Screaming for their man. And there he is, atop a staircase in a white blazer with black trim and sunglasses, of course.
Illuminated in blue lighting, he stands there for a minute in all his glory. Excitement compounds. Another minute. I swear, Usher was just straight postin' up there makin 'em sweat.
His band sits on cubicle-esque platforms behind him, almost hidden; it was truly the Usher Show. So, you know, eventually he saunters down the stairs and all, crooning one of his latest numbers.
It isn't long before a scantily clad woman is backin' her thang alllll up on dude. Ass-dips galore, son.
Eventually come to find, two women are now groping old man. He's chillin', though - sangin' n stuff. Why flinch when you have all the Bay's teenage women at your whim? You're good.
To note, Mr. Raymond had a couple of male dancers but they weren't near-naked and all - so, not as interesting. So yeah, the ladies. One eventually found herself some sexy undies while the other playfully put on Usher's dress shirt.
The lingerie lady scored some QT with Ush during her seductive on-top-of-piano routine. She did some funs tricks with her legs but I'm not sure if Usher was impressed. During a futuristic sounding digital tune, however, loverboy did offer up his "hard drive" and rock a little shirt-off action.
U-S-H-E-R walked to the far edges of the stage several times, teasing the wanting young lassies. A couple of these wanting women actually made it onto stage with boo-boo to participate in an Usher trivia contest.
Mostly keeping himself clothed and classy throughout the show, Usher sported a silky robe as he quizzed the first contestant for her spot on stage: "What was the name of my first album?"
The young lady unfortunately answered wrong and was escorted off stage - but not without a hug and a CD from Usher first.
Contestant number two, however, got down to business and won her the prize of Usher himself; envious fans witnessed in-ear serenades, intimate lap-sitting on a couch, champagne sippage, and Usher carrying the lovely madame around stage and onto the piano.
He chose "Superstar" for this particular segment, which includes the lyrics: "I'll be your groupie, baby." Ironic. In all, it was a well produced show covering the full-span of Usher's 15-year catalog, with tight choreography, good interaction with the audience, and ample DJ dance breaks.
Covers of "Prototype" and Marvin Gaye's "I Want You," along with tributes to Prince certified it a grown and sexy occasion for all. With fans chanting "Usher," our man offered an encore performance with a track entitled "Caught Up" and a closing backflip.
Naming himself an honorary member of the Bay, Usher announced in his best Oakland accent that, "this down bidniz." The audience laughed.