John Legend brought his personal flavor of hot-buttered soul to San Francisco’s Warfield Theater last Saturday, and oh, did it melt over the crowd like breakfast toast. The event marked an occasion for the Bay Area’s grown and sexy crowd to dress up, have dinner, and get their romance on. Meanwhile, younger cats took control of the ground level for sing-alongs and slow dancing. Regardless, John Legend commanded everyone’s attention with his sharp dress, silky voice, and lovely piano chords from his latest album Once Again and debut Get Lifted.
Legend’s performance was a throwback to the days of cleaner, more honest R&B music. John Legend is not just a singer, he’s a crooner — the kind of voice that makes ladies tremble and fan themselves. And in the grand tradition of crooners, Legend did his part by inviting a lady [see John Legend at Warfield pictures] up to the stage for some slow dancing as he performed his latest song titled “Slow Dance”. The song conjured up spirits of the doo-wop era as a prom-dress-clad woman dropped it like it’s hot while Legend stood behind her, singing softly in her ear.
The whole evening seemed to be dedicated to reviving spirits of older love songs. Legend’s performance of new song “Maxine” brought back the feel of Brazilian Bossanova grooves a la “Girl From Ipanema.” A sea of digital cameras and cell phones welcomed Legend’s latest single “Save Room,” which sounds like it could be on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. And Legend’s rendition of his last album’s hit single “I Used to Love U” took the form of a dancehall-reggae remix, although no cheeba smoke was evident all evening.
The evening was capped when Legend’s band left the stage as he began to perform “Ordinary People.” Serving as this generation’s “Imagine,” Legend’s heartfelt piano melodies were paired only with his voice imploring the crowd to take it slow, as they responded back, This time we’ll take it slow. Regardless of the advice, the bulk of the audience left the show to inevitably make some babies. — Oscar Pascual