Thursday, December 8, 2016

John Legend at the Angel Orensanz Center

John Legend at the Angel Orensanz CenterBorn to a seamstress and a factory worker in Springfield, Ohio, John Stephens at age four already performed with his church choir and at age seven was playing piano. In his college years, he was president and musical director of Counterparts, a co-ed jazz and pop a cappella group. He met Lauryn Hill, who hired him to play piano on a song on her debut solo album. This led to many other collaborations and eventually to a 10-time Grammy Award-winning solo career as John Legend. Now based in Los Angeles, California, Legend released his seventh album, Darkness and Light, on December 2, 2016.

In recent times, John Legend has been vocal about political and social causes, but performing a free intimate concert before Pandora listeners tonight, it was nearly all about serenaded his fans with love songs and slow jams. The Angel Orensanz Center, a former synagogue built in 1849, was bathed in cool blue and purple lights while Legend and his 14-piece band opened with a few songs from his new album and then chronologically went through his hits. Alternating between crooning and dancing by the lip of the makeshift stage and sitting at the glistening black piano, Legend sang with butter smooth vocals  as he and the band swayed and shimmied to the light pop songs. Between songs, he reminisced about the four apartments he lived in that were walking distance from the venue, and about how he and a young Kanye West both failed repeatedly at shopping Legend's demo tapes to record companies. Legend closed the show with a plea for love to win over hate, over division, and over fear, and with his two biggest hits. Performing solo at the piano, he let the audience sing most of the choruses to "All of Me" and concluded with his Oscar-winning "Glory." Legend's performance was a class act, and his warm charm and his slickly-arranged set won the night.

Visit John Legend at www.johnlegend.com.

Setlist
  1. Penthouse Floor
  2. Darkness and Light
  3. Overload
  4. What You Do to Me
  5. Used to Love U
  6. Tonight (Best You Ever Had)
  7. Made to Love
  8. Who Do We Think We Are
  9. Green Light
  10. Like I’m Gonna Lose You
  11. Surefire
  12. Ordinary People
  13. Love Me Now
  14. Marching into the Dark
  15. Encore: All of Me
  16. Glory