John Legend at Somerset House
Ordinary people gathered in the courtyard of London’s iconic Somerset House to witness an extraordinary artist. John Legend was supposed to perform in the capital three years ago, but, as with many, Covid delayed his arrival. The wait was worth it as the star put on a powerhouse performance and treated gig-goers to an array of tracks, both old and new.
Opening with Ooh La from seventh album Bigger Love, the sweeping doo-wop of Legend’s vocals is enhanced by his tight and cohesive band; the performance oozes old-school vibes and immediately captivates the crowd. Legend sounds just as he does on his studio albums and his musical influences quickly become apparent, with echoes of Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder seeping through. Fans are also treated to a poignant cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in memory of Legend’s late grandmother.
Songs such as Dope and PDA (We Just Don’t Care) might not be known to all, but work well to ensure the singer’s ballads are balanced with more upbeat, mid-tempo works. Penthouse Floor brings the funk and Save Room has everyone dancing.
Legend has an endearing manner, interacting effortlessly with the crowd, and his love and knowledge of his craft is undeniable. Sharing anecdotes, he lists an array of artists he has collaborated with, revealing that he played piano on Lauryn Hill’s seminal hit Everything Is Everything, produced Alicia Keys’s modern classic You Don’t Know My Name and enjoyed a long-running working relationship with Jay-Z and Kanye West. Fans are reminded just how long the artist has been in the game – both behind the scenes and centre-stage.
Bigger Love and Green Light are well received but Ordinary People is, of course, one of the main standouts of the night. The song that first put Legend on the map has spectators singing along. There are also audible gasps when he explains that it was originally written for the Black Eyed Peas. Thankfully, the classic track stayed with its rightful owner, and he performs it with obvious pride. Closing with his most famous hit, All of Me, Legend gifts the packed audience a joyous ending to an uplifting and memorable evening.
Photos: Richard Thompson
For further information and future events visit John Legend’s website here.
Watch the video for the single All of Me here: