John Legend
Greek Theatre
August 18, 2014

John Legend looked me straight in the eyes and told me he loved me last night, you guys.

Well, maybe he didn't mean me, personally, but it sure felt that way. On stage at the Greek Theatre, the R&B crooner seduced an entire audience of date nights and ladies' nights. From the very start of the show — string quintet, sudden spotlight on Legend in a silver suit, “Made to Love” — it was hard to avoid the communal fantasy in the air: each of us, alone with Legend, gazing, caressing, brushing a cheek with the back of a hand, living out that fast-forwarded love story at the beginning of the movie Up.


“Let me kiss that / I know you miss that / Let me fix that,” he sang.

Back in the real world, it was one of those perfect L.A. summer evenings where heat lamps are unnecessary and the trees poke majestically over the bandshell in the twilight. But who cares about what's happening in reality when a gorgeous man is lapping you up with his puppy eyes and telling you about how much he misses the grandmother that taught him gospel piano?

“Beautiful!” one woman shouted. “I love you!” another added.

“Stop breaking into my private reverie,” everyone else thought.

I saw middle-aged women squeal and shimmy. When Legend showed us how he wrote his songs, playing a little ditty while singing the cutest gibberish you've ever heard in your life, I worried the one of the women might throw her panties. He was adorable, purring at us with feline intensity as he recounted his Kanye West-assisted rise to fame, punctuated with a few bars each from some of his earliest credits: Lauryn Hill's “Everything is Everything”; Jay Z's “Encore”; Slum Village's “Selfish.”

See also: Our photo gallery of the show

John Legend; Credit: Timothy Norris

John Legend; Credit: Timothy Norris

He cooed that this was a “stripped-down show,” — mmmm, keep stripping if you feel comfortable, bae — and it's difficult to remember he used to do anything resembling hip-hop, anything you could dance to with more than a sway. Last night the fast songs were slow, and the slow songs even slower. He didn't even pretend to include Andre 3000's verse on 2008's “Greenlight,” and you got the sense that the audience would have been disappointed, not thrilled, if the dandy of a rapper had popped out as a special guest.

No, the funk and the edge were on hiatus for the evening; this show was all pillow talk and soul.

“Let's do it in the morning, sweet breeze in the summertime,” he suggested. He reminded us that he's the thinking girl's crush, referencing his years as a management consultant. He covered Marvin Gaye's “What's Going On?” as an encore, after making elliptical reference to the violence in Ferguson.

The only sour, unsexy moment came when he mentioned he was about to cover Michael Jackson, just before launching into “Rock with You.” Just do the song next time, bb. We don't need a quick-flash mental image of MJ at his creepiest.

And where were the straight men, through all of this? Bored? Jealous? Hugging their wives and girlfriends, wondering how to ape this guy's style?

“I liked his music more than his songs,” my male companion said, as we shuffle out.

Why, what was wrong with the lyrics?

“It was a little repetitive,” he insisted.

Hmm, that part didn't bother us. We could have done the thing all night long. 

You can watch Legend's show at the Bowl tomorrow night via here

See also: Our photo gallery of the show

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