By Brad Wete
Updated December 14, 2010 at 06:38 PM EST
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Image Credit: Lyle A. Waisman/Getty ImagesLast night, R&B’s present and future pulled into New York City for the first of two nights at Madison Square Garden for Usher’s OMG tour. Upstart vocalist Miguel, riding high off the success of his “All I Want is You” single, warmed up the audience. But Trey Songz, with his recent surge of aggressive yet smooth sex-pop hits, made things sizzle.

After breezing through recent jams like “Say Aah” and even covering Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” Songz took some time to appreciate the signs out in the audience. “Can I have your t-shirt, tie, or towel?” one girl’s poster asked. Trey did her one better. He peeled off his sweaty tank top and lowered it into her eager arms. Her night was made. Then it was time for Usher to please everyone else.

While most stared at the stage watching his stick-wielding dancers flash lights, Usher opened the show hovering over the audience before eventually floating down front and center. In a black leather jacket with matching sunglasses and pants, Usher wasted no time getting to his smashes. He has plenty. “Yeah” was the first he leaped into. His dancing, crisp and precise as usual, mirrored the 2004 video. Next was “U Remind Me,” which was followed by a brief skit with his four lovely dancers. “You know I have a past,” he said to his irritated “girlfriend” as he pointed to three jealous women behind him. “But you’re my future.” Nice try, but the line didn’t work—his exes strutted off. As did his new girl. “That’s not how we rehearsed the s— earlier,” he joked. Such was the evening’s loosely tied storyline: a thriving playboy trying to walk the straight and narrow path of monogamy.

Alone again, Usher looked to the crowd to find his next girl to the tune of his steamy, role-reversing “Trading Places.” He pulled an absolutely giddy woman out of the crowd to join him onstage. Excited but poised, she had no problem grinding against the superstar on a chair in front of the sold out arena. Though as the song wound down she got a little too loose, attempting to swing her leg across Usher’s chest. Whap! Instead, she kicked the side of Usher’s face. Embarrassed and profusely apologetic, she quickly rose to see if her clumsy stunt left a mark on his dimpled cheek. Luckily there wasn’t one, and ever the gentleman, he was all smiles. “We play rough in the bed,” he quipped. “We kick each other in the face and all kind of good stuff.”

His smooth vocals rang clear all night. Ballads like “There Goes My Baby” and “Burn” showcased his silky falsetto. However choosing not to have backup singers on the tour did hurt faster tracks like “Daddy’s Home” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” where he simply sang to a backing track during choruses instead of adding life to them. Hardly anyone seemed to mind, though. He attempted to say goodbye to the crowd, but after he left the stage, they quickly realized he hadn’t performed a favorite yet. Instantly, they started belting out the European soccer chants featured on his biggest hit of the year, “OMG.”

He returned, of course, lifting the crowd to their feet. “Get up,” Usher ordered a man in the front row. “This is the last song.” Albeit humiliated, he did. Sure, it was a long night. But how one could idly sit with such a dazzling display of James Brown shimmies, numerous explosions, and confetti raining just feet away is baffling. The show demanded respect. And Usher knew it.

Have you been to an Usher concert before? Were you ther last night? Think you want to go now? Let us know in the comments.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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