When the aging Stevie Wonder performed a tear-filled concert at Starlight Theatre the day after Michael Jackson died in 2009, some observers might have viewed the momentous occasion as the death knell of elegant R&B. They were wrong. John Legend’s concert at the storied outdoor venue on Tuesday will demonstrate the enduring power of sophisticated soul.
More than any artist to emerge in the new millennium, Legend possesses the graceful musicality that made Wonder and Jackson superstars. After carefully sidestepping the brightest lights of stardom much of the past 15 years, Legend has finally elected to rightfully present himself as one of the most vital stars in popular music.
Unlike Legend’s last show in Kansas City — a demure 2014 Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts performance in a room far too small to accommodate his thousands of fans in the region — he’ll bask in the large-scale theatrics that are expected of famous entertainers. The approach is befitting a man who appeared in the 2016 film “La La Land” and has won 10 Grammy Awards. Legend will be supported by an expansive backing band in renditions of exquisite hit ballads like “All of You,” “Ordinary People” and “Love Me Now.”
Gallant, an alternative R&B artist whose career has skyrocketed since he performed at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest in 2016, opens the show with sleek songs like “Weight in Gold.”
Tickets to the Tuesday, June 13, performance at Starlight Theatre are $30-$130 in advance at kcstarlight.com.