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‘Holla, holla, holla’

John Legend made all of us love all of him
  •  It was a New Year’s celebration as soul crooner John Legend took to the stage to perform at Atlantis Live’s New Year’s concert in the Imperial Ballroom. PHOTO: ATLANTIS

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Jan 06, 2017

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He was unassuming, non-flashy — but definitely classic and suave! John Legend lived up to his “legend” moniker as his voice was the star of Atlantis Live’s sold-out New Year’s celebration.

The soul singer made it all about his music. His voice shone through at least 20 tracks from various albums spanning his career, over a set that lasted approximately an hour and 20 minutes.

As cool as can be, in black trousers, a white shirt and cream-colored blazer, John Legend sauntered (for want of a better word) onto the stage in the Imperial Ballroom at the Atlantis. He opened with a groovy number – “Penthouse Floor”, a song from his new album Darkness and Light, before he took to the piano at center stage for “Asylum” from his Love In the Future album. Then he let you know that he was definitely the best you ever had with “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”.

Next up was “Made to Love”, one of Legend’s more energetic tracks from his “Love in The Future” album, and “Used to Love U” (Holla, holla, holla) from his Get Lifted album.

Not known for his dance moves, Legend offered a hip shimmy here and there with a slide and glide thrown in every once in while for good measure, but for the most part it was just his music and his voice and piano playing. He was backed by a nine-piece band that included two background singers, horns, an electronic pianist, a percussionist, bass player and a drummer.

Simplicity and elegance collided for the New Year’s performance that allowed for the singer’s vocals and music to be showcased.

For the most part, John Legend took a little something from all of his albums, with the brunt of the music coming from his Love In The Future and Get Lifted Albums. He also introduced fans to six songs from his latest album, Darkness and Light, which dropped at the beginning of December 2016.

He delivered “Good Morning” and “Number One” from his Get Lifted album; “Save Room” from the Once Again album; and “Stay with You” from Get Lifted album before he shifted to newer material with three songs from his Darkness and Light album, including “Overload”, featuring Miguel, and “What You Do to Me”.

He also delivered “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”, a popular Meghan Trainor track on which he’s featured, as well as Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” which Legend has done as a tribute.

Even though it’s his latest album and the songs are bound to be hit, many people didn’t seem to be well-versed in the music from his latest release, as evidenced by the quiet in the room during those songs. Despite that, the music went over well.

He encouraged the audience to get to their feet for “Green Light” from his Evolver album, even though he didn’t have to – the song is Legend’s most upbeat track.

And, of course, fans could not stay in their seats when they heard the opening notes to his breakout single “Ordinary People” from his Get Lifted album, which had everyone in singalong rapture.

A little Curtis Mayfield was thrown in for good measure before Legend went on to perform “Who Do We think We Are” from his Love In the Future album as well as “So High from Get Lifted”. He delighted with “Surefire” from Darkness and Light and “Love Me Now” before he and his band left the stage. For a few moments, the audience was stunned before beginning requests for Legend to return and perform one of the most popular ballads of the decade — “All of Me” from his Love In The Future album. Sure enough, a solo John Legend returned to the spotlight to satisfy his fans’ craving and threw in “Glory”, from the “Selma” soundtrack, for good measure to end the evening.

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