5 concerts by John Legend that we won’t forget

John Legend performs on the opening night of the Veterans Park Amphitheater in Springfield on Tuesday, July 26, 2005. FILE
Caption
John Legend performs on the opening night of the Veterans Park Amphitheater in Springfield on Tuesday, July 26, 2005. FILE

Credit: AP

Springfield native to perform at Rose Music Center on Saturday

With the release of his debut album, “Get Lifted” (2004), John Legend emerged from the shadows as Kanye West’s protégé and announced he was a force to be reckoned with. It went double platinum and earned the Springfield native the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.

Legend — bringing his Bigger Love Tour to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Saturday, Sept. 4 — went on to win 10 more Grammys. Of course, he has achieved massive success beyond music as an actor, film producer and television host.

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In 2018, the artist born John Stephens joined a rarified group with EGOT certification. Like Mel Brooks, Rita Moreno and Sir John Gielgud, Legend is one of only 16 people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. That same year, he appeared as Jesus Christ in NBC’s live production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Since 2019, he has been a host on “The Voice,” also on NBC.

This summer, Legend returned to the road with special guests the War and Treaty to support his seventh studio album, “Bigger Love” (2020). In honor of that, let’s take a look back at five of his notable concerts in the area.

A packed crowd filled the Veterans Park Amphitheater as part of the 2005 Summer Arts Festival to hear Springfield's own John Legend. FILE
Caption
A packed crowd filled the Veterans Park Amphitheater as part of the 2005 Summer Arts Festival to hear Springfield's own John Legend. FILE

Veterans Park, 2005

While Legend’s debut album had been a massive hit the previous year, nobody expected the massive crowd that actually arrived on a Tuesday night when the Springfield Arts Council presented the singer in a free concert.

The previous attendance record for a Summer Arts Festival event was 9,000 people for a Village People performance. The organizers were anticipating a similar sized crowd, but an estimated 20,000 people showed up to see the rising star from Springfield, who was opening a new season at the then newly renovated Veterans Park amphitheater on July 26, 2005.

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The set was naturally heavy on songs from Legend’s first album but, even though the follow-up wouldn’t be released for another 15 months, he performed then unreleased songs like “Heaven” and “Save Room.”

John Legend performs during the Downtown Dayton Revival on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. E.L. HUBBARD/CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
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John Legend performs during the Downtown Dayton Revival on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. E.L. HUBBARD/CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Downtown Dayton, 2012

While he didn’t mount a massive tour in 2012, Legend did a number of concerts and festival appearances that year. In addition to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del., in July and the Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park in September, he was among the headliners at the one and only staging of the Downtown Dayton Revival on Sept. 8 and 9.

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His set at the outdoor festival included songs from his first four albums, as well as covers of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

The event featured more than two dozen artists performing on three stages, including the Ohio Players, Train, Rusted Root, Guided By Voices, Guster and Heartless Bastards.

John Legend, center, joins Springfield City and School officials along with students in cutting the ribbon for the John Legend Theater in 2016. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
John Legend, center, joins Springfield City and School officials along with students in cutting the ribbon for the John Legend Theater in 2016. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

John Legend Theater 2016

Following the dedication and ribbon cutting of the John Legend Theater at the Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome on Oct. 9, 2016, the singer presented the first concert in the renovated venue.

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A crowd of about 1,000 was on hand as Legend accompanied himself on piano as he sang “Love Me Now,” “All of Me,” “Save Room” and other songs from his growing repertoire.

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The updates to the facility were completed through a grant of $11.3 million and additional financial support from Legend, National Bank, the Springfield Foundation and others.

John Legend performs at the Rose Music Center in 2017. FILE
Caption
John Legend performs at the Rose Music Center in 2017. FILE

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Rose Music Center 2017

In December 2016, Legend released his fifth studio album, “Darkness & Light.” He launched a tour in support of the album in Miami on May 12, 2017 and ended in New Orleans on June 30 with a headlining performance at the Essence Festival.

The U.S. dates included a stop at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on June 12, which was Legend’s only Ohio show that outing. Special guest Gallant was the opener for this tour.

His first appearance back at the outdoor venue since then is on Saturday, Sept. 4. This is the rescheduled date from his postponed concert originally scheduled for July 1, 2020.

John Legend made a surprise visit to the Oregon District in Dayton on Sunday, Aug. 11, just one week after the mass shooting that killed nine and injured 27. Legend gave a private show at Blind Bob’s. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Caption
John Legend made a surprise visit to the Oregon District in Dayton on Sunday, Aug. 11, just one week after the mass shooting that killed nine and injured 27. Legend gave a private show at Blind Bob’s. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Blind Bob’s 2019

On Aug. 11, 2019, moved by the tragic mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District earlier that month, Legend made a surprise visit to the Gem City.

He not only received a personal tour by Mayor Nan Whaley but also went shopping at Beck + Call, Puff Apothecary, Brim and Heart Mercantile. He ate dinner at Corner Kitchen and capped the visit with an intimate solo set at Blind Bob’s on Fifth Street.

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He was introduced by the mayor and performed for a full crowd that included first responders and city employees. He accompanied himself on grand piano and sang the originals “All of Me,” “Ordinary People” and “Save Room” and covers of songs by Marvin Gaye, Simon & Garfunkel and the Beatles.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: John Legend with special guests the War and Treaty

Where: Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: $83-$113

More info: 513-232-6220 or www.rosemusiccenter.com

Artist info: www.johnlegend.com