Prior to attending John Legend’s Love in Las Vegas Residency, I’m not sure I would have labelled myself an outright fan of his. I knew and enjoyed his radio hits, and that’s about it. But it’d be pretty hard to leave this show without a deep appreciation for Legend’s music and story.
Photos by Denise Truscello / Getty for Caesars Entertainment
At the entrance of Zappos Theater inside Planet Hollywood, you could audibly hear the surprise of each fan taking their place in the long security line that spilled down the hall and into the adjoining Miracle Mile Shops. Was it really that shocking, though, that the 12-time Grammy Award winner would pull a large crowd looking for top tier entertainment? Fans ranged in age from children with their parents, to elderly couples.
Despite the packed house, Zappos Theater is truly a venue where every seat is a “good seat” with a pretty clear view. Additionally, the balcony is not used for this show, so the entire audience is seated orchetra/mezzanine. The setting is very intimate, which is fitting for the autobiographical theme of the show.
Love in Las Vegas takes you through the journey of Legend’s music career— starting in his family’s Pentacostal church he grew up in. The opening set included animated stained glass windows high above platforms where his band, background singers and dancers in sparkling choir robes helped set the stage. It was obvious that aside from the music, this show was going to be visually fun to watch. The energy was high as the “Holla, holla, holla,” hook of “Used to Love U” brought everyone to their feet.
The show evolved continuously throughout the night. Legend’s sets were made up primarily of backdrop screens, allowing for a wide variety of ever-changing scenes that felt alive. From the church, we were brought to the streets of Philadelphia bustling with breakdancers, a nod to his college days at University of Pennsylvania. Later, we’d see a vintage Vegas cabaret set, complete with a lit staircase, classic neon light motifs, and showgirls in ornate costumes.
I don’t know who Spotify user Francisco is, but this playlist was updating LIVE during the show I attended with adjustments to the song order. I see you, Francisco!
One of my favorite parts of the show was when Legend talked— and sang— us through his come-up. We heard about his first gig as a session artist with Lauryn Hill. We laughed when learning about his college roommate’s cousin who got him a job singing background vocals for Jay Z’s “Encore” (the cousin being Kanye West). He performed a medley of these songs that helped him grow as a singer, songwriter and producer, sprinkling in some recent collaborations and fan favorites like “American Boy” and “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.”
It was fun to hear about Legend’s history as a musician, as well as the origins behind some of his most impactful songs (fun fact: he originally started writing “Ordinary People” with will.i.am for the Black Eyed Peas). He sang this, as well as his #1 single “All of Me,” solo with only his own piano accompaniment, thoroughly showcasing his musicianship and smooth-as-butter vocals.
It was in these stripped-back moments you could really feel the connection in the room, not only between the crowd and Legend, but between the audience members as everyone sang to the people they came with… a palpable sense of love and comfort.
Also solo in front of the piano, he covered Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” after sharing how his grandmother— the church organist— taught him gospel on the piano as a child. “When you hear me play and sing today, you’re hearing my grandmother,” he says leading into the song, “I always wished she was here to see all that she inspired.”
Love in Las Vegas embodies what having a Las Vegas residency is all about. Legend is a born performer, and incredibly engaging as he shares his lifetime of music with you. His vision was executed flawlessly to fit the caliber one would expect from a Vegas show. You’ll enjoy two full hours of storytelling through his stacked set list, lively dancers and video montages (with a cameo from wife Chrissy Teigen, of course). Not one moment felt wasted, it was truly an experience over a concert, celebrating each point that led to him standing on that very stage in front of you.
Needless to say, I left a newly-minted fan of John Legend, his journey, and his body of work.
Love in Las Vegas runs through October 2022. The best deals on tickets are available through Vegas.com.
I want to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new stuff in your blog.