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John Legend Old-Fashioned Romantic in a Machismo World

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John Legend kept his distance from the piano when he started his concert at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night.

He looked like an aggressive R&B star, with a video intro presenting him as a boxer ( la L L Cool J) while he made his entrance down the orchestra aisle in sunglasses and a leather jacket. Booming drumbeats pushed him through his first half-dozen songs as he worked the stage.

But he looked more comfortable once he tossed away the shades and, soon afterward, settled down to the piano at the end of Stereo. His keyboard parts were restored to the music, and he didnt have to pose any more.

Like it or not, Mr. Legend is a piano-playing songwriter with gifts that may be unfashionably genteel. He has a strong melodic sense and the pop knack for distilling a relationship down to a hook. I wish you the best, I guess, goes the post-breakup song Everybody Knows; at Radio City, he paused while the sold-out house shouted the I guess.

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