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Majid Jordan performs intimate show at Legends

| Monday, February 26, 2018

JOSEPH HAN | The Observer

Majid Jordan is currently in the middle of “The Space Between: A World Tour.” Before they hopscotch around Europe, the rhythm and blues (R&B) duo, composed of artists Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman, made stops in Chicago and Milwaukee. In between these two destinations, Majid Jordan was somehow convinced to play at a mid-sized Midwestern school, in a venue where the stage is raised probably only four inches above the floor. At this point in their career, Majid Jordan might be a little too big for Legends Nightclub at Notre Dame.

I arrived at about the scheduled start time of 10 p.m. to a sparse room with maybe a hundred people. I got to Legends early because, having been to only two previous concerts, I’m the type of person who thinks concerts start on time like a movie. Nothing but background music played for about half an hour until Stewart, the opening DJ, came on stage. The wait was fairly long, and the DJ’s set was longer. He began with some classic music a la Q-Tip, then transitioned into a more excited pop music theme. While a reasonably enjoyable opener, Stewart overstayed his welcome once he began playing lyric less dance tracks. A few people danced to them, but most only listened.

Finally, at 11:32 p.m., about an hour and a half after I had arrived, Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman took the stage. Majid looked at the thin crowd from his position of slight elevation, smiled, and said, “We played one of our first shows in a place just like this.” Then he asked if it was “midterms week or something.” He seemed happier to have the opportunity to play such a small show on this tour than disappointed at the turnout.

The duo played a good mix of older songs and songs off their newest album “The Space Between” with a small but powerful fluorescent light display at the back of the stage. Their music ranges between a chill disco-esque funk and more excited modern R&B ballads — it’s a perfect vibe for a concert. As Majid sang some pretty high notes and Jordan produced the music in more or less real time, the crowd swayed and bobbed without fatigue. At times, Majid would pull everyone into outright dancing with the characteristically funny way he moves. He would also hush the crowd when the music called for it.

Although Majid Jordan knew how to control a crowd, the crowd has a strong influence in the show as well. Majid Jordan took a song request or two from the crowd over the course of the night (while ignoring the repeated callouts to play “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drake’s No.1 single they co-produced and performed on). They even acquiesced after a turn of the microphone towards the crowd resulted in a request to sing “Happy Birthday” to someone named Chuck. We all sang for you, Chuck.

As the concert just about ended, Majid Jordan, in a reverse encore style, asked the students if they could play one last song. Because of the of the quality of the performance — and not because of Majid’s comments on Notre Dame being “a legendary school,” which were appreciated — the cheers were loud enough to signal a yes. They finished their set and left with a goodbye. For the few who went, it was a lucky experience to be so close to a group so talented.

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