Super soul singer John Legend lived up to his name Friday night at New York’s United Palace Theatre, kicking off the Yahoo! On the Road series. In addition to performing new and old songs from his catalog, the “Ordinary People” singer played with the Salomé Chamber Orchestra and covered songs by rock icons Bruce Springsteen and Simon & Garfunkel.
Legend's connection to Springsteen may have started two months ago, when he performed "Dancing in the Dark" at the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Springsteen. At the MusiCares event, Legend said he was excited to honor “one of the greatest songwriters of all time.”
At Friday night's concert, Legend gave a nod to Springsteen once again with the rendition of “Dancing in the Dark,” which was much more subdued than the upbeat original. His vocal pacing was slower than Springsteen’s, but it maintained a triumphant build that suited the live classical instrumentation, including Legend’s own fine grand piano work.
The audience exclaimed in delight when they realized Legend’s surprise. Friday’s version was also different than the jazzy offering he delivered with the Roots on Jimmy Fallon last year during a week-long ode to Springsteen.
Legend’s second cover for the night, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” prompted another exciting unexpected moment.
Legend’s gospel overtones for “Bridge” jelled perfecting with the chamber ensemble, and was unquestionably, one of the evening’s highlights.
Before his show, Legend explained why he sometimes sings songs from other artists during his shows. “We just decided it would be a cool thing to do,” he said. “I like to do cool covers sometimes and different artists who may not be of the exact same genre and do my own interpretation.”
During his one-hour-and-15-minute set, Legend performed well-received new songs “Dreams” and “All To Me,” and a number of his hits, “Save Room,” “Used to Love You,” “Save Room,” “Green Light” and the night’s encore-closer, “Ordinary People.”
John is definitely a legend in the making.
For more Yahoo! On the Road tour artists, locations and dates, check the calendar at: http://music.yahoo.com/on-the-road/schedule/