Great per­for­mance from mu­sic leg­end

Stockport Times East - - SOUNDS WRITE - WITH AN­THONY LO­MAN

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.

Lionel Richie

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