John Legend—A Legendary Christmas Tour
Opening acts: None
Date Seen: November 27, 2018
Cost of Ticket: $250
What better way to kick off the holiday season than with Legendary John Legend. Legend has been nominated for 27 Grammys and brought 10 of them home. Oh and did I mention that he also has an Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar and Tony Award? This makes John Legend one of only 15 people to achieve this and the first African-American man to do so. He has proven himself as a multifaceted performer, songwriter and producer.
Legend brought his tour to Toronto this evening to spread some Christmas cheer. He released “A Legendary Christmas” album which is comprised of reworked classics and original songs. While I appreciate his talent, I’m not a big fan. However, when I saw he was in Toronto while I was there for work, I thought why not go see him? Maybe Chrissy Teigen will be seated next to me and we’ll become BFFs.
While I didn’t get to meet Chrissy, I did get to experience and understand Legend’s appeal. John opened up the show with an upbeat cover of Stevie Wonder’s “What Christmas Means to Me” that had the audience on their feet. Legend has a charismatic voice of a bygone era that lends itself perfectly to classics like Bing Crosby’s “Silver Bells.” His Motown take on Christmas carols gives them a unique aspect. His 8 piece band (especially the brass section) takes the music to the next level.
Legend’s message for the night is all about Love (See the Setlist!). He weaves between romantic Christmas songs like “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Please Come Home for Christmas” to his R&B hits like “A Good Night” and “Tonight (Best You Ever Had).” One of the most special parts of the night was when Legend sang his duet with Meghan Trainor “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” His voice is consistently pitch perfect. He hits his notes with ease. Everything he sings has a sensual and smooth quality to it.
Beyond his vocals, Legend does a decent job of working the stage. His occasional interactions with his 3 backup singers is cute and playful. Though a few less costume changes than Cher, he works his way through a colourful array of suits and tuxedos. The background LED screen transported the audience to different locations and moods. And at times, Legend kept it simple with just he and the piano.
The highlight of the evening was the encore performance “All of Me.” The audience was not going home without hearing Legend’s biggest hit. John, solo at the piano, gave the crowd everything they had hoped for. The performance was nothing short of magical.
Why didn’t John get a higher rating from me? Well besides Chrissy not being seated next to me (message me - we’ll go get some take out!)…there was room for improvement. Legend is likeable the minute he walks onto the stage. And I get the impression he is probably a great storyteller. But he doesn’t open up to let the audience in. His music alone only takes us so far on the journey. He briefly touches on the importance of music with his family but a few more anecdotes would have made the evening much more intimate and festive. Secondly, he should have kept the concert a bit more “classic” sounding and included songs like his beautiful cover of Mel Tormé’s “Christmas Song.” The song showcases Legend’s impressive voice and it was a shame not to hear it performed. And it felt a lil wrong to so quickly transition into Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from “Penthouse Floor."
Glad I went and got the John Legend experience but I expected a bit more.
PS - John, thanks for liking my posts on Instagram ;-)
What Christmas Means to Me
Bring Me Love
A Good Night
Tonight (Best You Ever Had)
Love Me Now
Please Come Home for Christmas
By Christmas Eve
Where Did My Baby Go
Merry Christmas Baby
Christmas Time Is Here
No Place Like Home
Wrap Me Up In Your Love
Like I'm Gonna Lose You
You & I
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Encore: All of Me
Christmas Time is Here