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John Legend sells out Van Wezel

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John Legend close AP 2013

John Legend / AP / 2013

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has enjoyed countless sold-out shows during its illustrious history. But since opening in 1970, the iconic Sarasota venue has likely never hosted a performance by a recording artist who currently has one of the year’s biggest pop hits. That will change Sunday when John Legend plays the Van Wezel.

The multiple Grammy Award-winning singer and pianist’s single “All of Me” remains at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 after more than six months on the chart. The song, culled from Legend’s Top 5 album “Love In The Future,” has also climbed Billboard surveys such as Adult Contemporary, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Smooth Jazz Songs and even Latin Pop Airplay. A gorgeous piano ballad, “All of Me” would also probably top the Wedding Song chart for years to come if such a tally existed.

Mary Bensel HT ARCHIVE

Mary Bensel / HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE

Pop stars typically play 20,000-capacity arenas and sheds such as the Tampa Bay Times Forum and MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. The Van Wezel has a capacity of 1,736. Tickets for Legend’s sold-out performance ranged from $46 to $91; about the same price if he played the much larger, less intimate venues in Tampa.

“To have an artist at their peak with a breakout record and having the world music spotlight on them is spectacular,” says Mary Bensel, executive director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. “We had booked him a year before and he canceled. He was working on this record and didn’t want to go out not feeling his best. Then this album came out and it’s amazing. This is such a coup for the Van Wezel.”

Legend fans probably haven’t forgotten the statement he made a mere two weeks before his October 2012 show at the Van Wezel. At the time, the singer said he was postponing his fall tour until 2013 to coincide with his forthcoming album “Love in the Future.” In a website posting, Legend issued about a 300-word note that begins “Hey beautiful people.”

“I sincerely apologize if I’ve let any of you down,” it reads. “I’m going to get back to work and make sure we make this album the ‘best you’ve ever had.’”

John Legend AP 2014

John Legend performs at "The Night that Changed America: a Grammy salute to The Beatles," Jan. 27, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Zach Cordner/Invision/AP)

These kind of statements are rare and usually don’t work out as well as it did for Legend and his enthusiasts. It’s an extra special surprise for the Van Wezel, giving the venue a sold-out show a week after the end of another successful season. The Legend date, which will bring a much younger crowd than is typically found inside the purple theater, should also help with ticket sales to the recently announced “American Idol Live!” tour that comes to the Sarasota venue July 17 and will feature a performance by Bradenton’s Sam Woolf.

“I think it bodes very well for ‘American Idol,’” Bensel says. “We are so excited to have shows out of season and this should create so much excitement for ‘American Idol’ because any of those kids could be the next John Legend.”

John Legend
7 p.m. Sunday; Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; sold out; 953-3368; vanwezel.org.

John Legend
7 p.m. Sunday; Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; sold out; 953-3368; vanwezel.org.

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013
WADE TATANGELO is the editor of TICKET + and a contributor at TicketSarasota.com. He has been an entertainment editor, reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013 and writes the weekly Bar Tab column. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: April 28, 2014
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