Great performance from music legend
WITH all the pre-show publicity and the concert ticket itself promising Lionel Richie’s latest UK tour to deliver ‘All The Hits, All Night Long’, the 16,000 fans who went along to the singer’s gig at the Manchester Arena last Saturday night knew exactly what to expect.
And they got it all and much more during a thrilling, near two-hour performance from a genuine music legend.
With worldwide album sales well in excess of 100 million, it’s fair to say that there are few bigger superstars in music than Richie.
And witnessing this concert, it’s simple to fathom why his success has been so enduring during his extraordinary career that is now in its fifth decade and showing no signs of being on the wane.
The man IS the complete package, having the silky, soulful voice, the showmanship and, above all, a fantastic, deep catalogue of songs.
Taking to the stage to the opening strains of ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ Richie received a thunderous and rapturous welcome from an adoring audience who were completely ‘up for it’ from the off with their enthusiasm never once relenting during the entire show.
The hits came thick and fast with the opening number All Around The World followed by Penny Lover before Richie sat down at his grand piano for the first time delivering a sparkling rendition of his classic Commodores ballad Easy and that, in truth, is exactly how Richie made it all seem throughout the whole evening.
And Richie himself, now in his 65th year, is still in remarkable shape, both vocally and physically. That voice is every bit as strong as it was in the 70s/80s, seemingly almost untouched by time, save for a slightly gruffer edge to it that reveals itself on certain songs.
Richie also displays a great comedic touch. He frequently had the crowd in fits of laughter with his jokey references to Manchester’s weather, the now three generations of fans who attend his shows, and via his storytelling.
This was particularly shown in a segment of the show when he joked with the audience about how they have turned to his music time and again down the years in the aftermath of a relationship break-up and consoled themselves by rushing home to play his CDs, his LPs, his cassettes and even his eight-track cartridges, which led neatly into performances of the songs Still, Stuck On You and the Commodores funk number, Brick House.
It’s the true measure of an artist when you can perform for close on two hours with every song being instantly recognisable, but that’s how it is with Richie’s current tour.
And the audience just lapped it all up as the singer served up songs like Three Times A Lady, which he dedicated to his parents, Sail On and Lady (You Bring Me Up).
Richie further joked with the crowd about Diana Ross’s refusal to join him for the shows to duet on their famous ballad Endless Love and then proceeded to ask all the ladies ‘in the house’ to take on the Miss Ross vocal role which they needed little encouragement to do. “You all be Diana and... I’ll be me,” he jested.
Richie picked up the tempo again, backed by his superb, tight, fivepiece band for the trio of songs Angel, Don’t Stop The Music and My Destiny and then proceeded to romp to the ‘finish line’, bringing the concert to a tumultuous climax with four of his biggest crowd favourites – Say You Say Me, Dancing On The Ceiling (which he even intertwined with a little burst of Van Halen’s Jump), Hello and the rousing and infectious 1983 monster hit, All Night Long.
Returning to the stage for just the one encore, a version of the 1985 USA For Africa multi-artist charity song We Are The World, a song written by Richie with ‘my good friend’ Michael Jackson and which the singer revealed to the crowd was the composition which was the most meaningful to him of all those he has penned over the years.
A poignant conclusion to a quite fabulous concert.