“I feel good Hong Kong!” shouted John Legend at the Asia World Expo arena on Saturday night. And judging by the noise that followed from the rapturous audience, those feelings were reciprocated.
Legend’s 2016 album, Darkness and Light, might not have made a huge impression in the charts, but the neo-soul musician has reached greater heights than ever before.
Apart from his 10 Grammys, an Oscar for best song, and a cameo in La La Land, Legend’s enigmatic persona transcends to millions of fans worldwide, honing to his velvet smooth vocals and honest lyrics.
Over the course of two hours, Legend and his impeccable 11-piece band powered through a tightly woven arrangement of songs.
Opening the night with I Know Better from his latest album, he played the piano with masterful command, never once faulting on his roaring showmanship and energy.
Other songs from Darkness and Light included Penthouse Floor, Love Me Now and What You Do To Me. But it was the endearing tale that he shared about his role as DJ during the birth of his daughter, before launching into a cover of Superfly – the Curtis Mayfield classic – that had the audience on their feet, and dancing in the aisles.
Throughout the concert, Legend makes it a point to connect with his audience. “We are more interested in getting ‘likes’ than feeling love,” he says, before jumping in to a cover of Like I'm Gonna Lose You, a song that had the audience swaying with their loved ones.
As the concert progressed, it became clear that his true calling, however, lies in crafting timeless, evocative songs that elevate women. His hauntingly beautiful You and I elicited a few tears, and fan-favourite Ordinary People was met with roaring applause.
But it was the encore-launching All of Me – the powerful, yet gentle ballad, that is destined to remain the soundtrack of many newlyweds’ first dance – that singlehandedly elevated the entire show.
Fighting off any darkness, Legend ended the evening with his brightest performance yet; Glory; the song that earned him an Oscar in 2015. The politically charged anthem was accompanied by a video that paid tribute to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and more recently, #BlackLivesMatter.
Legend’s ability to beautifully tell stories is what sets him apart from his peers. Outspoken, he uses his superstar platform to advocate for change, and uses love as a unifier. Not only did Legend leave his audience entertained, he bestowed upon them a sense of empowerment, which is more than we can say for a man who initially set out to make music.