Gig Review by Cherry Barrett with Photography by Bianca Barrett

John Legend

Lucky were the lovers who attended John Legend’s NIA gig on Sunday. His old-school blend of romantically charged soul/R&B may (in his own words) help you get lucky. And judging by the audience there was indeed an abundance of couples, in fact the arena was dominated by them.

John Legend

In a complete turn around from the Birmingham Academy gig we covered in 2009 the ‘All of Me Tour’ is stripped back and unplugged, with more subtle musical backing and stage design redolent of a Jazz lounge. All of which accentuated the undeniable talents of Legend and kept the audience captivated by him alone.

John Legend

The set was punctuated by personal accounts of his career and life all swept along by the man and his piano. He opening the show with ‘Made to Love’ accompanied by a string quartet, his voice startlingly powerful and smooth all at once. When he moved into ‘Tonight’ (Best you ever had) there was an outbreak of excited giggles from the women in the audience, and the way John Legend walked across the stage caused quite a few more, not in a teenage 1D hysteria kind of way, but in a grown-woman appreciation of quality kind of way…

John Legend

He played a handful of songs from his debut album Get Lifted. ‘Used to Love U’, ‘Get Lifted’, ‘Number one’, ‘So High’ and ‘Ordinary People’ were always going to be massive crowd pleasers, but ‘So High’ proved a highlight of the whole night. Even ‘Number One’ with its boorish lyrics came across sophisticated and slick.

John Legend

Legend had the whole arena on their feet for ‘Green Light’ (although he did ask) and then smashed it with a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’.

John Legend

A bewitching ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ literally silenced the audience, a beautiful tribute to his late Grandmother who taught him to play Gospel Piano, likewise his closing number ‘All of Me’ had the room captivated and earned him a standing ovation.

John Legend

John Legend came across as an artist who has found his natural musical style and place, he charmed and entertained effortlessly with an almost retro quality that never gets old.

Birmingham baby boom in 9 months? Maybe?

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