By Michelle Anne P. Soliman

Concert Review
Darkness and Light Asia
John Legend

AS THE seats continued to be filled with guests, the lights dimmed at half past eight. A band — percussionist, a saxophone player, two trombone players, and three female backup singers — set the jazzy mood onstage. It was John Legend’s second visit to Manila — an evening, as the singer put it, to “focus on love.”

The 10-time Grammy award winner serenaded the Filipino crowd with 26 songs at the Darkness and Light Asia tour on March 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Philippines was the singer’s 9th destination on the tour’s Asian leg.

John Roger Stephens — better known as John Legend — entered the stage and began with “I Know Better” and “Penthouse Floor,” the first and second singles of his fifth and latest album, Darkness and Light, released in 2016. The singer amazed the crowd with his suave vocals while alternating between playing the piano and dancing to his songs in a black outfit with red streaks.

The first half of the show featured songs from 2016 — “Darkness and Light,” “Love Me Now,” and “Overload,” — as well as songs from his previous albums including “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” from 2012, and his first single, “Used to Love You,” from 2004.

The second half of the evening was highlighted by renditions of breathtaking ballads solely accompanied with the piano. The audience fell silent during Mr. Legend’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The spotlight illuminating his white coat added a dramatic effect. On the other hand, the audience joined along when he sang “Ordinary People.” The ballads were followed by an unexpected, goosebump enducing, a cappella rendition of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down.”

The evening concluded with a quick but moving encore as the crowd sang along to “All of Me,” Mr. Legend’s first number one single in the US — a love song he wrote for his wife, American model Chrissy Teigen. Mr. Legend ended with “Glory,” a song co-written with rapper Common for the film Selma (2014).

The 40-year-old singer/songwriter captured the audience with his powerful suave voice and romantic words. His voice sounded as clear as the studio version. Chatting was close to non-existent during the show. When the lights dimmed after each song, the sound of piano’s first measures lead to the next and another song followed, as if he did not tire.