REVIEW: John Legend at The Mann Center, 8/2

On Saturday night America’s fiancé–and Penn alum—John Legend, arrived at the Mann Center with a singular mission: to get Philadelphia laid. The silken-voiced R&B crooner played a tight 100-minute set attended by cool, late summer breezes that whispered sweet nothings into our ears.

Legend is touring on the strength of his three current love songs, “All of Me,” “Made to Love,” and “You and I,” all written for his model wife of eight months, Chrissy Teigen. He is as wholesome as an artist who is constantly singing about intercourse can get. In this respect, and so many others, Legend is the anti-Robin Thicke. The latter blew into summer 2013 with the monster hit “Blurred Lines,” and then spent the ensuing months on an extended musical bachelor party. And not a nice bachelor party, either. Like, a bachelor party with two groomsmen who have probably committed a misdemeanor held at a strip club where mobsters make deals in the movies. Meanwhile, with the success of this year’s singles, Legend continues his 10-year streak of cranking out mid-tempo jams and ballads in an effort to corner the market on making everyone pregnant.

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5 Things I Learned at the Sara Bareilles Concert at The Mann

Mann Center 1

Skyline Stage at The Mann.

When I found out I was going to the Sara Bareilles concert at the Mann last Thursday, I reacted with the type of feverish panic that only female pop artists can awaken in me. I had never listened to her before. In fact, I kind of loathe her kind of pop-rock. Would I be smothered in the midst of a feel-good group hug during one of her ballads? Would I fall into a quiet coma during a set of whispered love songs, left to rot on the lawn amongst half-finished wine coolers? Or, worse … would I actually enjoy it?

Here are five things I learned at the show:

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Philadelphia Orchestra Meets Outdoor Cinema at Movie Nights at The Mann

Movie Nights at the Mann kicks off with "Gladiator," featuring a live score from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Movie Nights at the Mann kicks off with “Gladiator,” featuring a live score from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts is taking Philly’s summer obsession with al fresco movies to a new level.

Next week, Movie Nights at The Mann kicks off, bringing a series of three movies to the incredible outdoor venue, each one accompanied by a live score from The Philadelphia Orchestra. Could there be a better way to experience a movie?

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PHOTOS: Phish at the Mann Center, Night 1

Photo by Scott Harris.

Photo by Scott Harris.

Any human person who can claim to write an objective review of the Phish is lying to himself, his editor and all readers.  It is impossible to separate the concert-going experience in all its sweat and smells from the pure musicianship of the band themselves, now in their 30th year playing together.

To the uninitiated, the tie-dyed horde of “phans” that descended on The Mann Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday, July 8th may be indistinguishable from the crowds that used to dog the Grateful Dead, America’s original jam band. Though also characterized by an obsessive following of smelly zealots and songs that leap from composed, complicated arrangements into simultaneous free-form improvisation by all four members, Phish’s similarity to the Dead begins and ends right about there.

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Diana Ross Served Extravagant Costume and Perfect Voice at the Mann Center Last Night

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 10.50.03 AMIs there a more exhilarating sound to a concert-goer’s ears than Diana Ross wailing the opening notes to her signature hit “I’m Coming Out” from somewhere far off-stage? The 1980 hit and unofficial gay anthem has been a staple at Ross’s concerts since its debut, most frequently serving as her opener as she races through the audience, futzing with her always-gargantuan wrap, and singing. It’s a gambit that perfectly encapsulates the legendary performer’s appeal—it is both extravagant and intimate, the gesture of a true diva who still wants to be close to her fans.

Ross, who returned to Philadelphia last night after a 10-year absence, has not changed her M.O. The signature horn blasts of “I’m Coming Out” and Ross’s reedy voice shot out across the twilight before she’d set foot on the stage of the Mann Center. As part of the “In The Name of Love Tour,” the 70-minute Wednesday night concert was a reliable trip down memory lane, revisiting a surfeit of the former Supreme’s hits from the ’60s and ’70s. Indeed, the 34-year-old show opener was the most current of Ross’ hits to be performed.

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