John Legend: Boogying in Brooklyn

It takes a man with balls to wear white pants and John Legend definitely has some. On Monday night (July 21), our favorite piano man performed at Brooklyn’s Wingate Field to kick off the 26th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series (which will later feature the likes of Jill Scott and Erykah Badu). As usual, he did not disappoint.

Opening the show was Johnnie’s brother Vaughn Anthony, who doubles as his backup singer and whose voice sounds so eerily similar to JL’s that if you closed your eyes you could instead imagine John belting out lyrics like, “We’re humping… we’re humping…” Next, Estelle, the UK singer-rapper-firecracker warmed up the crowd with songs from her debut, Shine, including “Come Over,” “No Substitute Love,” “More Than Friends” (a personal favorite) and a not-so-good sped-up rendition of “Shine.” She’s a sassy one. The crowd dug her take-charge attitude—she said “bitches” a couple times and twice beckoned a band member to dance with her then playfully pushed him away once done.

The man of the hour(s) arrived to the tune of the “Maxine” interlude, off Once Again, before drifting into “Heaven Only Knows” and “Get Lifted.” Dazzling, he was, alternating between sitting at the piano and standing at the mic virtually every other song. He strutted, teased, seduced.

Toward the beginning of his roughly hour-long set, he performed the ultra sexy “Green Light” and you already know Andre 3000 Three Stacks didn’t make a surprise appearance ’cause you didn’t read about a riot in BK. The singer also previewed new joints from his upcoming third album, Evolver, including the reggae-tinged “No Other Love,” “Everybody Knows” and “Good Morning,” during which he said something like, “Fellas, if you’re going home with a lady tonight just tell her ‘Good morning.’ She’ll get it.”

JL delighted the crowd with his usual lover melodies (“Save Room,” “I Can Change,” and the instant classic “Ordinary People”) and he carried on his tradition of plucking a lady from the crowd for the smoove groove, “Slow Dance.” By the time he got around to the show’s closer, “Refuge,” he’d stripped down to a black tank. What a tease.

-Clover Hope

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