Nine time Grammy winner John Legend is currently on a European tour and has won rave reviews for a series of concerts in the United Kingdom. Legend has played shows up and down the UK, and the shows have all shared one thing: UK audiences have loved Legend’s blend of smooth, bluesy soul. UK audiences and critics alike have marvelled at how Legend has managed to make performances in huge arenas seem low-key and intimate affairs.
Onstage at London’s enormous O2 arena Legend gave an indication of just how far he has come in in a fairly short time when he explained that the first time he performed in London it was as Kanye West’s sidekick.
“The first time I came to London, I was Kanye West’s sidekick. I played piano and sang behind him.”
With a cheeky smile Legend paused to allow the audience to absorb the absurdity that such a talented performer could play second fiddle to anyone, especially someone so limited and one dimensional as Kanye West. West produced Legend’s latest album Love In The Future, but according to the Guardian Legend showed how far he has left West behind by stripping West’s “electronic flourishes” out of his live show.
It wasn’t just in London that Legend wowed the fans. Tickets for Legend’s show in Manchester were in such high demand that the show had to be shifted to a significantly bigger arena. Despite that, the Manchester Evening News reported that Legend held the entire audience spellbound.
“It was just Legend, a spotlight and his piano for ‘Ordinary People’ but still, thousands of eyes were transfixed as he played like there was no one else there.”
“Legend is an extraordinary pianist and his textured vocals dipped and soared as good as ever.”
As Legend rolled into Glasgow the Herald claimed that Legend’s encore alone “proved to be worth the price of admission.” They said that Legend’s performance of “Glory” was a magnificent closer, “an incredibly powerful and pertinent testament to [Martin Luther] King’s struggle then and the ongoing tragedy of the struggle today.”
The Legend roadshow moved south, to Leeds, where the Yorkshire Post reported that Legend spent the second half of the show solo at his piano “treating his fans to songs that sound as if they were written with the purpose of captivating audiences of this size.”
Without exception those who reviewed Legend’s shows closed their reviews begging Legend to return their towns as soon as possible.
It is safe to say that UK audiences have loved Legend’s soulful and engaging performances. John Legend is fast becoming a soul Legend.
[Photo by Jason Bahr/Getty Images]