Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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John Legend: o2 Academy Brixton 09/03/09

JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09
JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON  09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09 JOHN LEGEND: o2 ACADEMY BRIXTON 09/03/09

Impressive John Legend put on a stylish and lyrical Rn'B show in that temple of British Indie Music known as The Brixton Academy and pulled it off at breakneck speed he whistled through tunes from current album 'Evolver' and an extensive back catalogue, many of which came from the 'Get Lifted' album.

John Legend is no razzmatazz RânâB showman, but he is a great lyricist and musician. Having got past the initial shock of the somewhat dated looking leather jacket and dodgy looking scarf when he came on stage, there were many pleasing musical moments. After a tremendous reception and somewhat cheesy introduction to the song, a mid-tempo 'Satisfaction' got things moving along nicely at the start of the show, which shifted gear effortlessly from mid-to-up tempo rhythmic RnâB to classic sounding ballads that John delivered from the vantage of his piano situated mid-stage. In this well balanced show there was something for everyone. There were sweet songs like 'Good Morning' and 'Number One' clearly aimed at the many ladies in the audience. Then, there were sections of the performance orientated towards the more sexy end of his RânâB catalogue with songs like 'Alright' where you could almost feel the presence of Usher in the room.

A great many numbers were imbued with Mr. Legendâs ebullient enthusiasm as, for instance, 'Get Lifted' during which he raised his arm triumphantly in the air. Other memorable moments saw some smoochy dancing with one of the backing singers and a female member of the audience hauled onto the stage and serenaded. It was a little disappointing that at one point, Legend ran a medley of songs with a only few bars from each, commencing with the heartfelt 'This Time' (which merited hearing it sung in full) and then morphing into a couple of Prince tracks including 'Purple Rain.'

In an end to the set that had been obviously well-worked out, the real pleasers had been saved to last. These were possibly the best three songs of the night starting off with the crowd-moving 'Green Light' from the new album, followed by the song 'Ordinary People'. Feeling like it has come straight out of the top draw of 70âs influenced ballad writing... But the grand finale came in the form of new anthem 'If Youâre Out There'. Some have stated cynically that this is John Legendâs 'We Are The Worldâ moment!? However, in this reviewerâs humble opinion it is certain to become regarded as a classic in the mould of Black Eyed Peas 'Where is the love' and on the night, it was performed with the same inspirational quality as Labi Siffreâs 'Something Inside So Strong'. The emotional effect was enhanced with images of the some of the great humanitarians of the last 150 years appearing on the backdrop, starting with Abraham Lincoln and running through Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela and finishing with Barack Obama.

By the end of the show (to a sell-out near 5000 strong appreciative audience). John Legendâs blend of silky RânâB and masterful balladry AND musicianship filled the venue with a great atmosphere, leaving no-one in any doubt that he is truly the king of his art.

All photos care of Romain Kedochim. For more visit ROMAIN PHOTOGRAPHY
Words DARREN LEWIS

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