John Legend brought his own brand of immersion therapy to Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall last night (March 26). And the audience got lifted during the fourth stop on the singer/songwriter’s first acoustic junket: "An Evening With John Legend: The All of Me Tour."
And that’s exactly what Legend poured out during the ensuing two-hour set. A seated string quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello) set the tone with a two-song overture. Then amidst thundering applause, the man himself—sartorially sharp in a black tuxedo and black shirt—emerged in front of a red-lit backdrop. Sitting down at his piano, the Legend got right down to business as he and a guitarist launched into "Made to Love," from his current album, "Love in the Future."
"I just want to be intimate with you tonight; like you’re in my living room," Legend told the sold-out hall after a riveting version of "Tonight." Except, he added to laughter, "I have a suit on whereas I’d usually be in a bathrobe and there’d be no string quartet." Noting that early in his career he once played a three-song set at New York’s Living Room, he promised "to make up for that and do a full show tonight."
Alternating between solely accompanying himself and enlisting the guitarist and string quartet, Legend delivered an engrossing musical biography. "Let’s Get Lifted," from his 2004 solo debut "Get Lifted," gave way to familiar hits/enthusiastic sing-alongs ("Used to Love You," "Green Light," "Ordinary People"), soul-baring covers ("Dancing in the Dark," "Bridge Over Troubled Water"), audience requests (“Stay With Me”) and more songs from his latest album ("You & I," "Who Do We Think We Are"). Leaving the stage to a standing ovation after "Ordinary People," Legend returned for the much-anticipated encore, "All of Me," and another ovation.
No doubt fueled by the success of that single—now No. 2 on the Hot 100, it's the biggest hit of his career thus far—Legend was in fine form. His warm, soaring tenor, masterful piano playing and easy interplay with the audience left a lasting impression long after the Disney Hall stage darkened.
Legend’s "All of Me" theater tour moves on to Las Vegas (March 27) and Berkeley, Calif. (March 30). The tour, which began March 20, will also make stops in Albuquerque, Chicago, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Brooklyn, N.Y. before wrapping in early June.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall set list was as follows:
"Love in the Future Intro" – strings only
"The Beginning" – strings only
"Made to Love"
"Prelude" (from "Get Lifted")
"Let’s Get Lifted"
"Used to Love U"
"Stay With Me"
"Where Did My Baby Go"
"Dancing in the Dark"
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
"You & I"
"Who Do We Think We Are"
"All of Me" (Encore)