With a moniker like Legend, you'd better have the stuff to back it up. For starters, John Legend's six Grammy Awards, his slew of Top 40 hits and accolades from the Songwriters Hall of Fame make for an impressive resume, but when it comes to performing live, the singer/songwriter truly lives up to his name.
Amidst cameras flashing and screaming fans, Legend surprised the sold-out crowd at last Thursday's concert at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater by entering from the back of the room. Breaking the barriers between audience and performer, Legend sashayed his way down the aisle singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," stopping along the way to greet fans and even hopping on a chair, a la Tom Cruise.
Finally making his way to the stage, the confident crooner kept fans on their feet with high-energy hits "Used to Love You" and "Alright," proving that he can deliver more than romantic piano-laced ballads.
AUBREY HORD photo
John Legend surprised the crowd at last week’s concert as he entered through a back door to open the show, singing a rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
What I thought would be a one man show turned out to be a massive production featuring three backup singers and a seven-piece band. But the most powerful and touching moments came when it was just Legend and his piano, like during his encore performance of "Ordinary People."
Then there was the unforgettable "Slow Dance" number. Nearly stealing the show, or at least that particular song, was a woman from the audience who got to do just that onstage with Legend. To say that she was starstruck would be putting it lightly.
Blending classic soul with modern flavor, his sounds - not to mention his seductive lyrics - were reminiscent of Marvin Gaye. It's the kind of music that will get couples in bed, then serve as the soundtrack once they're there.
Like the playfully seductive "P.D.A." song: "Let's make love. Let's go somewhere they might discover us. Let's get lost in lust. We just don't care."
Despite some of his not-so-subtle lyrics, Legend managed to bring a sense of sophistication rather than sleaze to his steamy ballads.
Even lines like "I'll have you spinning round and round crazy making freaky sounds" during "Let's Get Lifted" had an undeniable tenderness to it.
The Maui performance was a first for Legend, who admitted he had never visited the island before. "I like to feel like we're making history tonight," he told the crowd. After experiencing Legend's music live, I just hope history repeats itself.