LIVE: John Legend @ Proctors, 5/16/14

John Legend

John Legend

Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

John Legend was riding high with “All of Me,” the No. 1 song in the country, when he stepped into the spotlight and slipped behind the piano for “Made to Love” at Proctors in Schenectady last week. The romantic crooner had plenty to celebrate, and he treated the sold-out crowd to an evening of satin smooth soul.

But rather than throwing together an over-the-top extravagant performance, Legend went the other way, stripping down his performance to the acoustic essentials – Legend on piano accompanied by guitarist Ryan Lerman, and, on many of his 20 selections, a string quartet. Simple, heart-felt and true…

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In addition to his own catalog of hits, Legend served up a pair a strong cover tunes, too, including a slowed-to-a-stroll rendition of “Dancing in the Dark” (which Bruce Springsteen had performed at his own TU Center concert earlier in the week) and the towering “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”

NOTE: Simon & Garfunkel proved to be Artists of the Weekend around Nippertown, as Red Molly performed “Homeward Bound” at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Friday, and Al Kooper & Friends ripped into “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” at The Egg in Albany on Saturday.

As it turned out, Legend’s Proctors show was only the kick-off of a major week that also found him performing at the Billboard Music Awards (two songs!), delivering the commencement speech at his alma mater the University of Pennsylvania, making another live television performance on the “American Idol” season finale and heading back to Greater Nippertown at 7:30pm tonight (Thursday, May 22) for a sold-out gala concert at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie. Clearly, he’s on a big roll…

SECOND OPINIONS
Steve Barnes’ review at The Times Union
Susan Rice’s review and Bryan Lasky’s photographs at Upstate Live
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “John Legend’s second song at Proctors on Friday night was ‘Tonight.’ The chorus, which he repeated at least 20 times, said, ‘I don’t want to brag, but I’ll be the best you ever had.’ By the 15th time or so, people were laughing, as was he, when he said, ‘Sometimes you gotta let her know.’ It was so over the top that Legend came off humble. This was the ‘All of Me’ tour, and it was all about him, song after song, story after story. And for most in the packed theater, two hours was not enough.”

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