Friday, 13 March 2009

John Legend plays Brixton, London

Last Monday night my husband finally got to enjoy his Christmas present – two tickets to see John Legend’s sold-out gig at the Brixton Academy and luckily he took me. It was a fantastic night of listening to sublime music and watching a great talent at work. John Legend – one-time church choir leader, now singer, songwriter, pianist, producer and label-manager (deep breath…) – returned to Brixton again, working towards confirming the definition of his adopted surname (he was born John Stephens in Ohio 30 years ago).

He headed a great live show, though a little full-on visually with constant huge screen in the background giving us a suitably cool take on the man. Sometimes grainy black-and-white footage of JL, giving him an air of history and authority, and sometimes just psychedelic 60s-type revolving graphics, and often beautiful, etheral women. He played through his well-known back-catalogue from his previous two albums (including the best-known ‘Ordinary People’ in the encore) and promoted his third, ‘Evolver’. The musicians and backing singers (including the feisty one with the seemingly sprayed-on trousers) gave great support, helping build up many of his moments-of-life songs to a rousing cresendo.

And I know it’s a sleb cliché but he did speak movingly, towards the end of the gig, about the charity in which he’s involved, helping African villages and, especially the Show Me Campaign.

Interestingly, Legend was a crucial cultural figure for the Obama campaign when he worked on the 'Yes We Can' video which became a huge viral hit on YouTube, and he also played at several Obama campaign stops.

David Sinclair’s TimesOnline review of Legend's gig on 9 March managed to captured the seductiveness of JL and his set, though ends a little unfairly, in my view - you can read it here.

If you’re curious, or just plain sycophantic, you can see some photographs from the gig here. And an interview with the man in the Mail on Sunday by Angus Batey last July 2008 here.
I, for one, enjoyed a now all too rare evening gig sans les enfants - I mean, we were out past midnight forgodsakes! Priorities have changed, an'all that, but it was good to be reminded about the richness of London's cultural offerings, and the great music which we've seen over the years.


Tricky said...

Great post, well summarised I thought. Of course I saw him too and thought he was awesome. So much energy, he hardly stopped for breath. Need to get the evolver album NOW.

Muffin said...

Great post! He was so amazing! Thanks for commenting on my post about him on

I was quite close to the front but his voice is so amazing I doubt it mattered where you were!

Your blog is good I'll become a follower :)

Raven said...

Thanks Tricky and Muffin, I appreciate your visit and your kind words.