John Legend Charms UK Fans at “All of You” world tour
John Legend’s All of You world tour came to Birmingham, England. The day was Sunday the 12th of October 2014. Staged at the National Indoor Arena, a great venue with great staff; it was a show to behold.
The event started on time 7.15pm. The opening show was a solo performance of some very good songs by a singer/pianist, Judith Hill. Her songs were all performed with the piano she played artfully giving them a more than subtle jazzy feel. Hill could sing and her voice was fantastic. Let us not compare her with anyone she can be a real great in her own right someday. Having just seen the movie Begin Again one could only imagine what she would have sounded like if she had had a combo, strings and backup vocalists supporting her.
John Legend’s entrance was straightforward but amazing. He climbed onto the stage in darkness and made straight for the front of the stage under floodlights where he stood and smiled at the audience with a wave amidst a grand ovation; he exuded a very powerful but easy charisma. He then got down to his art with the assistance of an excellent band with strings.
Legend’s songs were all well performed and had a magic about them. The arena’s sound quality of the performance was impeccable. He was dressed in his trademark suit. He is a big star, but did not look like one in the “traditional sense;” he looked like a famous guy who was fun to be around, easy-going, good-looking, cheerful and congenial. This aspect about him became emphatic when it got to storytelling.
He told “sketches” of his rise to fame. He did this by using his voice and piano to reproduce his earlier musical contributions to the music of Lauren Hill, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and others; at the end of each reproduction he would proudly but not arrogantly say, “That was Me”. It took him six years of playing with stars to get his big break. Apparently he started out as a management consultant.
He also told stories about his two grandmothers, one middle-named Maxine and the other nameless. Maxine, he said, was happy that he had sang her name in two songs (he swears he did not know that that was her middle name) and he surmised she would not have if she had heard the lyrics of “Maxine”! About his nameless grandmother, who he sang with as a child, he wished she was alive today to see his success and dedicated a song he performed to her. He is yet another successful African American from a church family. One would not have imagined that John Legend was a great story teller but I would love to go a concert where he just tells stories, sincerely.
John Legend sang his own songs mostly but he did some cover versions. His rendition of Bridge over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkel, though covered and interpreted by numerous musicians in different ways, was truly refreshing and soulful, even nostalgic. His cover of Rock with You by Michael Jackson brought the audience to their feet dancing, happy music.
What people went to the concert mostly to see was John Legend singing Ordinary People and All of Me, which happened to be the last two songs he sang. On Ordinary People he was accompanied by his band in a highly emotive and satisfying style. Then he does the only common gimmick of the show. He thanks Judith Hill, his band and his audience and leaves the stage to a standing ovation, as if the show had ended finally.
A girl in the audience says “no one is leaving till he performs All of Me.” There was sudden tight apprehension in the air, which lifted the moment when he started climbing back on stage. His last song was sung by him and the audience. Everyone seemed to know the lyrics and the intuitive interaction with the audience was effortless. It was a powerful and memorable moment of musical ecstasy from Legend; the stuff of great concerts. What an end to a concert!
It was a truly great show by a truly great singer, performer and story teller.
VIDEO – Watch the original video for All Of Me: