Updated January 3, 2022 - 6:57 am
A pair of kings won the hand and rocked the house at Dolby Live at Park MGM on Thursday night. Usher showed up, unbilled but clearly ready to perform, during Bruno Mars’ penultimate show of 2021.
Get used to these two at Dolby Live, too. Mars, playing the role of international entertainment correspondent, dropped a bomb when he told the roaring crowd, “Usher is playing here next year, so get your tickets.”
Mars likes to tease from the stage (and this announcement was likely not authorized by MGM Resorts International), but he was not kidding. We can confidently report Usher will be on the Dolby Live roster in 2022, with a new show set to open likely in July. The R&B superstar has two more shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where he closes his residency with shows New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Usher shook up the scene deep into Mars’ performance, which nearly filled Dolby Live to its 5,200 capacity. Sitting at the keyboard, Mars had just commented that he once “wanted to be on TV, just like Usher,” at which point Usher himself strode out. The place want wild. The two then teamed on Usher’s “You Got it Bad” and “You Don’t Have to Call.” That was a happy surprise, but Mars’ announcement about Usher switching theaters was a shock.
Usher’s move south on the Strip marks the first time a Colosseum resident headliner has switched to Park MGM’s theater. Serendipitously, the venue that opened as Park Theater celebrates its fifth anniversary New Year’s Eve weekend. Stevie Nicks with special guests the Pretenders opened the venue Dec. 31, 2016.
We anticipate Usher, who has toured the venues front- and back-of-house setup, will develop an ancillary experience similar to his terrific, autobiographical “Backstory Pass” beneath the Colosseum.
Dolby Live now has a full calendar of headliners lined up for 2022, with announcements pending as acts navigate safety protocols amid the latest COVID omicron variant surge. But expect Lady Gaga, Aerosmith, Cher, Mars (with a revamped production), Garth Brooks and Jonas Brothers to all perform multiple dates at Dolby next year. There also is one other superstar to be announced at Dolby Live for the first quarter of next year, and it is said to be a biggie.
The Colosseum will thus look to replace Usher, whose residency was a highlight of the COVID reopening across Las Vegas. He and Mars were the first two superstar headliners to restart their shows in July, as large-scale entertainment returned to the city.
Adele is the Colosseum’s major draw for 2022, opening her “Weekends With Adele” series Jan. 21. She is performing two shows per weekend through April 16, all of which have sold out without being made available to the general public with. Platinum VIP prices exceed $4,500 and are far higher rates on the secondary market.
On Thursday, Usher arrived in characteristically stylish fashion. He wore baggy black pants and a white jacket gleaming with what appeared to be Swarovski crystals (or especially fancy rhinestones) with a red heart and letter “A” across the left front. The superstar had told his audience at the Colosseum on Wednesday he’d tweaked his left knee (former Fox 5 anchor Christine Maddela tweeted that information from the theater), but showed no evidence of being restricted.
Instead, he grooved it up on “You Got it Bad” while Mars played piano. Mars then snared a guitar and the two sang and danced side-by-side for “You Don’t Have to Call.”
Usher began to walk off the stage after the first number. Mars had none of that, shouting, “You’re not leaving the stage with that fancy-ass jacket!” As Usher finally departed, Mars again referred to that dazzling piece, joking that he was wearing a loose button-down shirt because, “I didn’t get the memo!”
Usher stayed for the final four songs, watching from the Dolby Live VIP section, a stretch that included the show-closing “Uptown Funk” and the requisite cannon blasts of confetti.
Regretfully, none of Usher’s appearance would be captured on cell phones, at least not without violating Mars’ own venue rules. The headliner requires phones to be pouched in Yondr-brand fabric cases or simply left behind, so no images or posts reach the public. Throughout his Dolby Live shows, Mars cheerily sings a song with the chorus, “I took your phones awaaaaay!”
That song would win a Kats! Award for Best Song You Won’t Hear Unless You Attend a Bruno Mars Show. Maybe Mars will have that number ready for his new show at Dolby Live next year. We can think of an able duet partner.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.