Lionel Richie - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 6/8/2014
Maria Vassett Lionel Richie. Full slideshow here.
Lionel Richie's All the Hits, All Night Long Tour
Lionel Richie is one of the best-selling artists of all time. He was a member of Motown's The Commodores in the '60s and went on to be a hit machine as a solo artist, with 10-plus albums released over 30 years. He's 64 and still appears to thoroughly enjoy performing. The sheer amount of smiling and laughing Richie can fit into an hour and a half is kind of incredible and contagious (even while he's singing, I mean, come on). His signature move is to face the crowd, place his hands on his hips and throw his head back and laugh. Mix that kind of happiness with a performer who still has quite a bit of soul and grit and a good but maybe dorky sense of humor, and you've got a fine night of entertainment.
"Are we having a fire?" he incredulously asked when he took the stage in all black and a stylized military blazer that was a somewhat ordinary derivative of Michael Jackson or Sgt. Pepper. "I went outside to get some sun and damn near blew up."
About a third of the show was dedicated to songs he wrote with The Commodores. The remaining songs were primarily off his solo work from the '80s and '90s. Though he admitted there's a lot of pressure to remember every word at his shows, it didn't seem to matter much, since most of the audience had basically turned this event into a karaoke night. Richie only seemed to have forgotten the lyrics near the end of "You Are" -- in fairness, he did ask the audience to help him sing that one.
Everyone got up and moving for "Running with the Night." It was a fun number, after which Richie declared he hadn't seen dancing like that since '82 (a year before that song was released) and remarked: "I have no clue what you all were doing."
Afterward, it was time to give those hips a rest, take a seat and get sincere. Richie reiterated to the audience how long they had been together and gone through parallel life experiences: When he was in love, they were in love. When he was out of love, so were his fans. And when they fell back in love, he was right there, too. He then played a three-song series from the piano bench of "love songs" for all the people who have run home to put on a Lionel Richie "album/8-track/cassette/CD/download" to get through the feat of romance. (Note: Every time Richie sat down at his piano, he was handed a drink: red wine, then champagne he wasn't into and finally a glass of white he nearly chugged.)