Citi Presents ‘Evenings with Legends‘
A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
The McKittrick Hotel, New York, NY
January 29, 2014
Concert Review: John Legend at The McKittrick
In the lead up to Sunday’s big game at MetLife Stadium, the New York City area is replete with events, parties and special performances. Topping the list of the week’s most sought after experiences, the ‘Citi Presents “Evenings with Legends” Series’ is bringing fans from all walks of life up close and personal with some of the most dynamic athletes and artists in history. On Wednesday evening, the west side’s McKittrick Hotel played host to a hundred and fifty some odd guests inside of an intimate space, welcoming singer-songwriter John Legend for an exclusive performance for Citicard holders. For over an hour, the soulful pianist beautifully crooned cuts from his latest album, 2013′s “Love in the Future” along with a bevy of older tracks and cover songs flawlessly thrown in for good measure.
Bearing the brunt of a chilly January evening was hardly an issue for the lineup of assembled ticketholders, who were filed into the cozy venue by the elevator full promptly at 9pm. Once inside, the space was a throwback of sorts- reminiscent of one part cabaret one part speakeasy- certainly a uniquely private setting for a show of this caliber. Guests filled much of the standing room only space toward the back of the room, with many of the small cocktail tables reserved for VIPs and big-wigs which we couldn’t help but gawk at. Comfortably seated in the very front of the stage with some friends was Legend’s wife, model Chrissy Teigen, likely the muse for much of the singer’s inspired lyrics.
Strolling out to the stage and seated behind his piano, John Legend was as casually confident as one might expect, briefly acknowledging the applauding New York City crowd before launching immediately into the sultry “Made to Love.” Methodically, his virtuous fingers masterfully pressed each key with purpose while his vocals never wavered at any point during his 14 song set. Despite his ability to play in far larger venues, marveling at Legend’s talents here was a far more fulfilling experience evidenced by his ability to be equally confident and playful simultaneously.
Perhaps the show’s most fascinating moments were its reflective ones. The singer recalled cutting his chops as a New York City local for some 14 years, performing in the likes of S.O.B’s, The Knitting Factory, Jimmy’s Uptown, and Sugar Bar all while working as a management consultant by day. Legend to his credit really seemed to revel in the opportunity to share this level of intimacy with his fans in Manhattan, musing ‘It’s Super Bowl weekend in new York City. A day I’d never thought I’d see. It’s really cool playing these small shows – playing in New York City” – before leading into the opening notes of “Save Room.” Other cuts like the slightly upbeat “Used to Love U,” “Where Did My Baby Go,” and “Good Morning” were equally as revelatory, especially considering the impression made on first time concertgoers like yours truly, who couldn’t help but be awestruck by Legend’s poise and ability to captivate an audience as a solo artist.
Lending his own signature swagger to iconic songs, Legend’s takes on Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancin in the Dark” and The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” were simply riveting versions re-created in his own image – rhythmic and passionate. Taking some suggestions from the audience to close out the performance, the crowd swooned for “Stay With You” and “Ordinary People,” evident as Legend allowed the room to singing backing vocals during the chorus. Following a brief tease when he left the stage momentarily, Legend returned with an impassioned encore of “All Of Me” to the delight of the audience. It takes a brave artist to sit alone on stage behind a piano with no backing band or singers to fall back on. But it takes an incredible performer to enrapture a sold out New York City audience for more than an hour. And we’re just thankful to have had the opportunity to witness John Legend’s mastery in person.
1. Made to Love
2. Tonight (Best You Ever Had)
3. Save Room
4. Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
5. Save the Night
6. Used to Love U
8. Where Did My Baby Go
9. Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles Cover)
10. Good Morning
11. Stay With You
12. You & I (Nobody in the World)
13. Ordinary People
14. All Of Me