John Legend performed at the illustrious McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea last night, the first of three performances for Citi Presents Evenings With Legends, which also includes Band of Horses (tonight), The Black Keys (tomorrow), as well as Q and A sessions with athletes Eli Manning, Jerry Rice and Mike Ditka. The small, bourgeois crowd of Citi card holders was abuzz until John Legend hijacked the entire speakeasy's focus sitting behind a grand piano.
Even in such a small alcove, Legend's stage persona was impressive. It wasn't only his vocal range that floored me, but also his incredibly seductive stare that alone could entrance a major venue's most distant spectator. Like an old, haunted painting, his eyes are unshakable and feel permanently attached to your own gaze, and in last night's intimate setting, escape wasn't imaginable nor desired. He recreated his jazzy cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark", which he first performed
with The Roots for Springsteen Week on Jimmy Fallon in 2012, as well as a stripped down version of "Here Comes The Sun". By the time Legend came out for an encore of his hit "All Of Me", the audience was lush with friendly heckles of "I Love You John!"
One of my fellow spectators caught this video of his love-hurts single "Ordinary People", complete with awkward audience participation.