Lionel Richie was not doing press before his concert tour, so here’s a review of one of his recent shows.
Lionel Richie made a killing in the 1980s with a string of piano ballads that sold a million copies and inspired a million prom-night slow dances.
So it’s easy to forget how funky the guy could be.
Richie played all of those ballads at a June concert in Jacksonville, Fla. — “Penny Lover,” “Truly,” “You Are.” But he also spent a good deal of his time calling back to his days with the Commodores, one of the finest funk bands of the ‘70s, with “Brick House” and “Lady (You Bring Me Up)” and others.
He’s also got an astonishing songbook to work from. When a guy walks onstage and breaks into “Easy,” you’d think there would be no place to go but downhill from there. But Richie has a catalog deep enough to play 19 songs with no throwaways in the set list.
Nearly half of his songs were from his Commodores days (including an impressive run through “Three Times a Lady,” “Sail On,” “Fancy Dancer” and “Sweet Love”), but Richie didn’t forget about the mid-’80s monster hits — “Running With the Night,” “Stuck on You,” “Dancing on the Ceiling,” “Say You, Say Me.”
Of course he couldn’t leave out his two signature songs from the ‘80s: “Endless Love” (with the ladies in the audience filling in the Diana Ross parts) and “We Are the World” (with Richie filling in all the non-Richie parts).
Richie is in the middle of a big comeback, with a live album/DVD set to be released in late August and a tour taking him on the road all summer. It’s a long- overdue comeback for a guy whose songs keep you going, well, all night long.