The Capital Region was romanced by nine-time Grammy award winner, John Legend, on Friday, May 16th at Proctor’s in Schenectady. Despite the Spring chill and light rain, some guests were dressed to the nines with fur and silk as others could be seen in the occasional flannel for the sold out show. As the lights dimmed, the spotlight shone on a four piece string section and an electric guitarist, that got the crowd buzzing with excitement as it was close to show time. Suddenly, the shadowy outline of a figure standing on stage, and as the lights went up, you saw John Legend dressed in a sharp white suit jacket and a smile that made the whole crowd melt. He opens the show with one of his newest singles, “Made To Love”, a strong battle cry of emotion that flew at the crowd with acoustic intensity. He gave shout outs to Albany and Schenectady as he playfully warned, “Tonight’s the Night”, another song focused on the here and now.
Throughout the show, John Legend told stories from his past, about his family and fellow musicians, experiences that all brought him to this moment right now. He explained how his first show was in a small bar called The Living Room in Manhattan and he wanted to create the feel of a small show in a comfortable setting again, which was brought to life by the acoustic performances on his All of Me tour. He spoke humble words with a sophisticated manner that was warm and welcoming. He encouraged crowd participation for all his songs, which the audience happily responded with lyrics, cheers and plenty of female screamers. Legend even took a moment to play matchmaker as he joked with the couples and single folks, “I’m warming them up for you fellas. There are no guarantees in life, but you got a good shot tonight.” He took requests with one of them being “PDA”, perfectly setting the mood underneath the golden stars and arches of Proctors.
One of the most touching moments was John Legend explaining his early childhood with his family attending church on Sundays. He acquired his piano styling from his grandmother, who taught him gospel piano every week and said, “So when you hear me, you are still hearing my grandma.” He dedicated Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” to her as he performed with heartfelt execution and precious timing. John Legend has a range of vocals with a flavor of attitude that spices up his piano playing for an unforgettable performance. There are not enough things in the world as smooth as John Legend and it’s no wonder that his shows have been selling out on this rare and more intimate tour. His soulful keys and romantic lyrics give hope that Love in the Future is within reach for all of us. Limited tickets are still available for The OnCenter Crouse Hinds Theater on June 12th in Syracuse.