It was the night after celebrating my 28th birthday.
To be completely honest, I was having a really shit day at work (after having such a great time the night before with a group of my closest friends), that I decided to treat myself and in a sense, buy myself my own birthday present in the form of John Legend.
He was due to play at the Sydney Opera House to end his “All Of Me” World Tour and I decided the week before that I should go. I mean, ‘Why Not?’, right? Taking Tina Knowles’ advice via Beyoncé of “Never expecting anyone else to provide for [me] things I know I can provide for myself”, I took a big jump and hit purchase on the Soundcheck Package. Cost-wise, it was more than what I thought it would be but nothing short of ridiculous like the prices Demi Lovato is asking for. That’s just ridiculous.
But what did this ‘Soundcheck Package’ end up providing? Well, first off, there was no Soundcheck. Instead we skipped the support act – Dami Im – which to be honest, was no big loss to me; and we headed backstage, because it was there that a little area was set up for us to ‘Meet and Greet’ the man himself – Mr John Legend.
Before you get all excited (as I was prior to taking the photo), the ‘Meet and Greet’ comes with specific strict rules of what you can/can’t do or say to him, so that completely put a downer on the situation, and it lasted for less than a minute! Boo. As a friend said, ‘it wasn’t a Meet and Greet; it was more of a photo opportunity’. And she was absolutely right. The only extra perk I received was a belated birthday greeting from the soul singer. 🙂
But onto the main event. With the tagline of this tour reading as a “stripped-down and unplugged” type of show, I felt the Sydney Opera House was the perfect venue for Legend to play with his piano, string quartet and three other band members – drums, bass and guitar.
Opening up with a melodic piece from his string quartet, Legend stepped on stage to a roaring crowd of applause and cheers. Opening up with ‘Made to Love’, Legend featured a special part in the beginning of the show, which in a sense was a sort of “Did You Know That Was Me?” segment sharing anecdotes of his journey as an artist – from the first gig he played in New York with less than 5 people in the audience, the rejection from his current label, working with some of the best artists in the industry including Lauryn Hill, Slum Village, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Kanye West; all up to the point of his debut record, “Get Lifted”.
Snippet of John Legend singing the hook of one of my favourite Slum Village songs.
It was definitely pretty entertaining and very much an eye-opener. For instance:
Did you know he played the opening piano chords for Lauryn Hill’s ‘Everything is Everything‘?
Did you know he sang backing vocals for Alicia Keys on ‘You Don’t Know My Name‘.
Did you know that he sang the hook of ‘What the hell are you waiting for?’ on Jay-Z’s ‘Encore‘?
I certainly didn’t.
Performing songs from his discography of four albums, Legend delivered a stunning performance filled with some of his best work such as ‘Let’s Get Lifted’, ‘Used To Love You’, ‘Save Room’, ‘Green Light’, ‘Wake Up Everybody’, ‘Who Do We Think We Are?’, ‘You And I (Nobody In The World)’, a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’, and of course, the song that has everyone pulling out their phones for (or sings along to), the heart-breakingly beautiful ‘Ordinary People’.
A special moment towards the end of the evening, however, was just before he delved into his version of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. John Legend – the superstar that he is – took a moment to address and reflect on the tragedy that was the Sydney Siege which occurred earlier that week. It was such a beautiful moment. And whilst I’m not certain that he had everybody shedding a tear during (or after) that performance, I’m pretty sure that he gained their respect; because of the words he shared and the dedication of a song to the lost victims of the Martin Place incident.
A short break followed and Legend returned to the stage for a one-song encore of the single that launched this world tour for him – ‘All Of Me’.
An unforgettable evening for many reasons.
Sydney Opera House
December 18, 2014