Arena / Brooklyn / Hip Hop and R&B / Live Music

John Legend, Barclays Center

“Not Making Out At A John Legend Concert”

By, Philip Toscano

Headed to a John Legend concert? Pack your Altoids and lip-balm, because you are about to start making out. Chances are you are going with your girlfriend or boyfriend. I know this, because when my colleague/friend (and work-wife) Alicia took our seats in Brooklyn at The Barclays Center, we were the only two who were not coupled in the entire sold-out arena. So, we decided to heat things up by grabbing dates of our own, two Brooklyn Lagers, and so the double-date began.

In our seats (just one row off the floor), Marsha Ambrosius was one or two songs into her opening for Mr. Legend. When I say pipes, I mean THIS GIRL CAN REALLY SING. Whether low, mid-range, or up through the high runs, Ambrosius can really rattle the rafters. She had a very casual and comfortable way of talking to the audience, which was entertaining and comedic. Her slide into, “I hope she cheats on you with a baseball player,” had the place rolling, especially when she changed the adulterer’s object to a basketball and hockey player.

Having never been to a John Legend concert before, I wondered how the audience would react to the piano playing crooner. Would they be subdued, seated and clapping, or would there be boy-band-like hysteria with panties flying? I was pleased to find out that the crowd behaved somewhere in the middle. When Legend snuck on stage in the dark in his stylish tuxedo, he was greeted with a rousing applause and a very enthusiastic crowd.

Mostly seated behind his piano, Legend entertained the crowd while being backed up by a small string section, and no back-up vocalists. He carried the entire concert with just his voice, and it sounded strong and impressive. The few times that he got out from behind the piano, he strolled the length of the stage with charisma and charm, winning over the audience and delivering all the ladies (and most of the men) right to his wing-tips. There is no doubt that Legend can truly play the piano, but he should liberate himself from the ivories more often to connect with his eager audience.

Legend strung together tunes with musings (set to his piano) about his upbringing, performing in church, his grandma, and working with no-names like Jay-Z, Kanye, and Alicia Keys. The crowd sang along to (or made out to) “Ordinary People,” “Made to Love,” “Caught Up,” as well as a few of his other hits while patiently waiting for “All of Me”—which was his encore. The man’s voice matches perfectly to how he sounds in his recordings—eat your heart out auto-tuned artists.

All in all, it was a very chill, mellow concert experience. Towards the end of the show, I could neither get my haircut at the barber shop on the concourse nor grab a beer at any stand. The one negative thing I could say about Barclays is that the entire concourse turns into a ghost town after 9PM. It might be the only place in NYC that one cannot get a beer after sunset.

Alicia’s Takeaway: Phil hit the nail on the head, or should I say the fingers to the ivories, when he mentioned that John should come out from behind the piano more. He’s very charismatic and charming and he could use those moments to incite even more making out among the concert goers. Overall great concert, great venue and a great non-making-out-work-husband date.

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