LIFT TICKET – Common Ground was Taken Higher by John Legend’s Performance

By Joe Walker

     LANSING, MI — Singer John Legend, his band and two back-up singers had been entertaining the audience at Common Ground for nearly 60 minutes, when suddenly Legend’s musical company left the stage. All that remained was a piano in front of him. The stage went black. One soft white spotlight fell on Legend from overhead. His fingers began to walk the keys to the tune of a familiar melody, triggering screams from the audience that reached deafening levels. John Legend performed his hit single "Ordinary People." And this, like all the songs before and after, was performed with passion, power and perfection.
     On July 14 at Adado Riverfront Park, John Legend appeared on the East Main Stage of Common Ground Festival, an annual musical event. The sum of 10,226 fans came to downtown Lansing to watch Legend perform songs from "Get Lifted," his platinum-selling debut album.
     The band and back-up singers took the stage at 9:05. Playing soft music in warm-up fashion, they prepped the audience for Legend’s arrival into view. Legend began to hum gently into his microphone as the fans began to scream as they caught slight glimpses of him behind the stage. The band started to play with more emphasis as Legend took the stage to an ovation of screams at 9:07. First he performed his title track, singing most of the song on his feet before finally sitting to play a beautiful black piano. He followed with an awesome rendition of "Alright," again standing to pace back and forth across the stage. He engaged the audience with every pass. Returning to his seat, Legend next performed "She Don’t Have To Know." Members of the audience could be seen holding hands, dancing and swaying from side to side with arms in the air as they sang along.
     One highlight was Legend’s impromptu remix of his hit single "Used To Love U." The beat broke down into a reggae-like, island groove. He also performed his version of "Selfish," a song recorded by Slum Village, which featured Legend on the chorus. He showed that this song, for him, was more than just a guest appearance. And his performance, for the audience, was more than just a concert. It was like a piece of cake that you’d eat before dinner – sweet, enjoyable, memorable.
     Legend’s voice stayed strong throughout the night. It never weakened; it never cracked. He sang several songs in a row without taking a drink of water. Every number translated excellently in the live setting.
     Don, a 23 year-old visitor from Detroit said he was amazed by Legend’s voice.
     "That dude can blow," he said. "He sounds just like he does on the CD."
     Jamie, a 20 year-old Lansing resident, said she loved every moment of the concert.
     "I love John Legend so much," she said "He sounds SO good live."
     Lhauren, 15, of Okemos said she had a lot of fun.
     "[Legend] was a very entertaining live performer," she said. "I would definitely go see him again."