There is not a shred of doubt in my mind: John Legend, formerly John Stephens, is 100% deserving of the name he now calls his own. His career now spans fifteen years, five of which have been unsigned. His climb to a record deal featured collaborations with Lauryn Hill on her track “Everything Is Everything” during college, backing vocals on Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name” in 2003, and an eventual meet-up and collaboration with Kanye West throughout the early 2000’s. His career has never stopped climbing since, churning out Grammy award winning, chart-topping tunes with every album release.
Legend’s “homecoming” show to The Mann on Saturday showcased Legend at the peak of his popularity and his songwriting ability. Opening up the night with an intro from a very tight string quartet, Legend appeared proud and confident, and segued quickly into a soulful rendition of “Made To Love” off his 2013 LP Love In The Future. After thunderous applause, he improvised on the piano as he walked the audience through the beginning of his career, from his UPenn and Lauryn Hill days up until his signing in 2004, and then led the audience through a danceable and energized “Let’s Get Lifted Again”. The night continued on in the same fashion, with Legend taking frequent breaks to shmooze with the audience, telling them about his grandmother’s appreciation (despite the lyrics) of his track “Maxine” off 2006’s Once Again, sharing thoughts on his songwriting process, romance, and so on. Highlights from Legend’s set included “Who Do We Think We Are” and “Green Light” despite the absence of Rick Ross and Andre 3000 respectively, and the irresistible ballad “You And I,” which was definitely a crowd favorite. After a very brief encore pause, Legend wrapped up the evening with his chart-topping single “All Of Me” which had every person singing along, harmonies and all. Check out photos of the below.
John Legend, Mann Center for the Performing Arts'