John Legend performs in Welsh-Ryan

Rebecca Olles

Screams erupted and flashing camera lights popped from every corner of Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday night, not for the Northwestern basketball team, but for famed R&B artist John Legend.

As part of inauguration week, the six-time Grammy Award winner performed for a crowd of about 4,000 members from the NU community. The concert, planned by A&O Productions, was the first to be held in the arena since Kanye West’s performance five years ago.

Vaughn Anthony, Legend’s younger brother, opened the show with four songs. His music, similar to his brother’s, included songs like “She Loves Me Not” and “Future.”

The crowd rose to their feet and stood on chairs when Legend appeared in the middle of crowd, singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

When he took the stage for his second song, “Used to Love U,” Legend spoke to the crowd, telling them to put their hands in the air and sing along.

“It’s good to be here for the first time,” Legend said to the audience. “It’s good to be back in the Chicago area. It’s good to see you tonight – I’m glad to know we’ve got some John Legend fans at Northwestern University.”

During the song “Slow Dance,” Legend brought NU student Evelyn Carter out of the crowd and up on the stage to dance with him.

Carter, a Weinberg senior, said she sat in the front row with the hopes of being chosen to go on stage.

“My entire body was in shock and awe,” she said. “The main thing I was thinking was ‘keep moving.’ It’s my birthday on Tuesday so that was a great way to start off the weekend.”

During his last song “Green Light,” Legend took off his shirt and stood on the piano before leaving the stage to screams and cheers. After about two minutes, Legend came back to sing an encore that included one of his most popular songs, “Ordinary People.” Attendees swayed back and forth to the music, singing with Legend with their cell phones in the air capturing moments.

“I really appreciate you,” he said to the crowd before playing his final song, “Stay With You.” “I encourage you to do well in school, graduate and go on and change the world.”

NU administrators approached A&O executive board members last spring to begin planning a concert as part of the inauguration festivities. By combining the University’s funding with its own, A&O was able to bring Legend to campus and hold the first concert in Welsh-Ryan arena in half a decade.

A&O Chairman Adam Pumm said he was happy with the number of attendees at the concert.

“It’s the most ticket sales for a student-produced event at Northwestern since we had Bob Dylan in 2000,” the Weinberg senior said. “I’m really proud of how the show turned out.We’re really happy that (Legend) chose to wrap up his tour here.”

Weinberg sophomore Lauren Uichanco said she thought the concert was both an introduction to Legend and a fulfilling experience for long-time fans.

“There were some people that were really into it, and there were some people who didn’t know his songs,” she said. “But they came away knowing a lot about him.”

[email protected]