John Legend - live at The O2, London, September 2017

John Legend, multi-platinum selling and ten time Grammy Award-winner R&B singer brought his "Darkness and Light" Tour to The O2 in London last night and it was a perfect excuse for all the thousands of couples attending to make this special occurrence their Tuesday date-night.

English solo acoustic singer, Jack Savoretti opened the night and as the woman in the row behind me said, "What a great start!" Albeit a strange choice to open for John Legend, his gypsy-bluesy-country act kept the handful of early birds entertained and he ended with a powerful and memorable rendition of his song, ‘Catapult' from his 2015 album, ‘Written in Scars'.

The Legend himself made his appearance at exactly 21h00 with the crowd still streaming in. Initially, the stage had 2 thinner LCD screens to the front of each side and one, further back, in the middle, with a circular cut-out. As the first notes for ‘I know better' kicked off the night, Legend rose from below the middle screen behind his black piano and the audience roared with excitement. Unfortunately, the stage set-up for the opening song was not ideal and from the side-stands, the singer was not visible.

But the disappointing start didn't last too long as during ‘Penthouse Floor' the wall of screens separated and revealed his 11-piece band, consisting of a brass section, guitarist, drummer and three backup singers.

The night consisted of two parts - Dressed in a striking black-and-gold embroidered jacket, for most of the first part, John was strutting the stage with a wireless mic, throwing in a few Elvis-knee-jerk-moves and punching the air, whilst delivering songs like ‘Made to Love' and ‘Love me Now', even dropping to his knees for ‘What you do to Me'. After a short intermission, he returned dressed in bright white and spent most of the second part of the night behind his piano.

Legend interacted with the audience between all songs, asked them to dance, even going as far as to pull a female fan from the audience to join him onstage for ‘Slow Dance'. Love was the topic of the night and as he said himself, "We get so focused on likes, sometimes we forget about love. Tonight, we're going to love."

His wife, Chrissy Teigen, and daughter, Luna was at the show and a focal point, with special family moments on the screens at times. John told the crowd that he wrote ‘Right By You (for Luna)' for his daughter and that, "We can't protect her from the heartache." "But as long as I'm here. I'm going to be there for her."

Throughout the performance, the stage lights changed from red, amber, and purple and created ambiance to support the mood of the songs. The imagery on the LCD screens changed to reflect the songs' content. The concert was nearly 2 hours long and consisted of 25 songs that included songs from his earlier albums and to promote his latest, ‘Darkness and Light'. It also included like Meghan Trainor's ‘Like I'm gonna lose you'.

For the encore, he returned on the piano one last time for the highly anticipated ‘All of Me' in front of a backdrop of a spread-out dark starry sky and concluded by delivering a powerful performance of ‘Glory', an Academy award-winning song from Selma, during which clips of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations were on the screens.

It was exactly what I expected – an overly-polished show by a professional who has won multiple accolades and has done this many-many times before. A confident and soulful voice, delivering hit-after-hit and impressive piano-driven croons in front of impressive lights and dramatic imagery on massive LCD screens. Fans will remember this one and likely also had a successful date-night to boot.

Reviewed for Gig Junkies

All Images ©Marianne Brits-Strodl
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