It was announced back in February, that John Legend would performing a sold out show at the University of Houston’s very own Cullen Performance Hall. During the day, the seats are filled with students of a General Business course but on Sunday night, it was filled with an older crowd, who came arm and arm with their loved ones.With doors opening at 6 PM, everyone was dressed in their Sunday best and enjoyed refreshments outside of the venue.
At 7 PM, the show started with an orchestral piece as the lights dimmed. John Legend appeared in a tuxedo and stepped down to take his seat at the piano. After finishing up “Tonight,” Legend proceeded to share his story of performing at The Living Room in New York and how he and Kanye West opened for Usher on tour. He then transitioned to “Used To Love U” and “Refuge,” which was a requested from the audience for the first time on this tour.
After a spending much time, Legend switched it up and grabbed a stool to perform “Maxine” as the full house snapped their fingers throughout the song. He shares with us that coincidentally, his grandmother’s middle name is Maxine and she believed that the “flirty” was named after her.
John Legend was open and honest with the crowd as he shared numerous stories of her personal life and performing acoustic versions of all of his records. He told us of his experience of performing Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” with The Roots for the first time on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He also spoke of receiving a letter from Mr. Springsteen himself, requesting Legend to perform his rendition of the song at the Music Cares Foundation event. He then performed a string of hits including “Green Light”, “Good Morning”, and “Everybody Knows.”
He credited his grandmother who died when he was 10 (not the one with the middle name “Maxine”) for his music style and dedicated “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to her. The mood lightened up when John walked around the stage interacting with the crowd and audience members who were actually seated on couches on the stage. He conversed with a couple on stage who told him that they were engaged. John dedicated “You & I” to the pair before performing another string of hits. Starting from “Who Do You Think We Are” then transitioning to “Caught Up” and finally ending with “Cloud Nine.”
Before ending the intimate show, John Legend performed “Ordinary People” and had the audience sing the chorus before he bowed and exited the stage. The crowd knew that there had to be an encore, so they gave him a standing ovation. Legend came back to perform his most played song on the radio, “All of Me.” After performing a 2-hour raw and acoustic set, Legend took his final bow.
Overall, experiencing John Legend for the first time live was one that I will never forget. Although he could have sold out a larger venue, he decided to stick to those that seated less than 2,500 to create a more intimate atmosphere, which shows how significant his vision for his tour was.