John Legend at ASU Gammage Last Night

John Legend
February 8, 2011
ASU Gammage Auditorium

John Only needed his voice and a piano to make a huge impression at Gammage auditorium last night.

Legend's show, sponsored by Arizona State University's undergraduate student government and the black/African coalition, was held in celebration of Black History Month, and that background heavily flavored the entire evening.

All the usual elements of Big Show spectacle were gone. Rather than hang out in  the green room until the house lights dimmed and the crowd's murmur built to a roar, Legend even came out to do a pre-performance Q&A session with the audience, making an incredibly poignant speech in the process. The Grammy award-winning artist spoke about optimism and respect, and he discussed why is so open about his political opinions.

He also raised awareness amongst students about his Show Me Campaign, which works toward making meaningful change in poverty-stricken communities. He spoke about his involvement with Teach For America, and about how America's education system is crumbling and that we need to do better. Thank goodness that there are a few good musicians who can still inspire and reach out to so many people. His speech was really something else.

I admit it: I cried a little. It was honestly that uplifting.

John isn't just a beautiful person but a brilliant musician as well. It was just him, his piano and his sweet voice, and, man, few musicians can work with such a minimal amount of production like he can. As a lighthearted John said himself, the performance consisted of "no band, no back up singers, no autotune."

It wasn't so much that John did anything special that made the show so remarkable; he just happens to be a very moving performer. Even though the set seemed to fly right by, the concert was nothing but purely soulful.

Last night: John Legend at ASU Gammage Auditorium.

Personal bias: I've been wanting to see John Legend for quite some time now. Not that I don't feel like paying a ton of money to see John play with Sade on tour this summer (because I'd definitely shell out some bills to see John Legend), but I'd rather see him for free at an event where he's doing more than playing another gig and he's supporting a good cause.

The crowd: As expected since concertgoers needed to show their Sun Card to get in, the crowd was nearly entirely made up of ASU students. John Legend packed the house.

Overheard: A ton of people cheered for Frederick Douglas during a speech given by the leader of the Black/African Coalition. Hell yeah.

Random notebook dump: The last concert I saw was the Roots, where the crowd was mostly a bunch of young white kids. It was nice to see so much more diversity in the audience last night.

Save Room
Where Did My Baby Go
Used To Love You
Wake Up Everybody
Good Morning
This Time I Want It All
Green Light
Ordinary People

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Lenni Rosenblum