There’s something special about being in the audience for a performer’s kick off show for their new tour. Electricity and anticipation fills the air as the build up begins and the countdown to the magic hour begins. Pre-show music loudly storms through the speakers getting the audience ready for the night’s festivities. Though it is every performers dream to have enough hits to put together a Greatest Hits show, there are only a handful that can honestly say they can fill two hours on stage with back to back smash songs that everyone knows and loves. Lionel Richie is one of those lucky musicians.
Starting with the Commodores in 1968 it’s hard to believe Richie (now 64) has been writing and performing solid hits for over four decades. As a founding member of the group they scored hit after hit in the 1970’s and early 1980’s adding their special brand of R&B to the soundtrack of our lives. Bringing the funky and fun back to music they grabbed us with “Machine Gun,” “Fire,” and the infamous “Brick House.” Richie developed an incredible niche when it came to pulling the heart strings and excelled with such ballads as “Easy,” “Three Times A Lady,” “Sail On,” and “Still.” Branching out on his own with a solo career in 1982, Richie never looked back but continued his record breaking ways. His self-titled release contained three hit singles in the U.S.: “Truly,” “You Are,” and “My Love.”
This evening at Hard Rock Live Richie brought his ALL THE HITS ALL NIGHT LONG show to Hollywood Florida. And what a show it was. Starting with a bang, literally, drums crashed spotlights flashed resembling the thunder and lightning we Floridians have been experiencing non-stop lately. Two hours of non-stop classic songs and Richie at his performance peek was on tap for the evening. There wasn’t a Lionel Richie hit you could think of he didn’t play including his hits with the Commodores; which was a crowd pleasing full out romping-stomping good time. “Brick House,” and “Fire,” was just one of the many highlights of the evening bringing the audience to its feet. Richie in a playful mood talked with the crowd giving us back stories to some of his most popular songs. His voice is as good as it ever was and like the man himself shows no sign of age or slowing down. Quipping “I’m always asked when I’m going to retire. Retire from what? I’ve never had a job in my entire life.” Dressed casually in black pants, black shirt, and a black leather jacket, which was discarded sometime within the first hour, he genuinely enjoyed performing for the sold out Hard Rock Live as much as we enjoyed being in attendance. Flashing his famous broad smile he effortlessly changed the pace of the show with a great mix of ballads and soulful R&B and pop tunes.
“Hello,” “Truly,” “Say You Say Me,” “Penny Lover,” ‘Sail On,” the repertoire goes on and on to include another twenty or so songs which I know for many of us hold a special meaning; especially the love songs. There was a moment during the show when Richie was introducing “Endless Love,” that he placed a seed in our minds that he may be joined on stage for the duet by Diana Ross. Though Ross gave a resounding ‘No,’ to joining him onstage for opening night in Hollywood Florida during their phone conversation it was up to the ladies in the audience to take her place. I think we did a phenomenal job if I do say so myself. Putting a reggae Caribbean beat to “Easy,” gave the song an easy going groove that got everyone in the mood; good times all around man. “Dancing on the Ceiling,” raised the roof literally, and his encore “All Night Long,” capped off a perfect evening that could have easily gone on for at least another hour. For once the billing of a show lived up to its expectation. This was truly Lionel Richie’s all the hits all night long. Richie’s tour will end on October 18 in Los Angeles so if you find he’s coming to your city be sure to catch his show. I guarantee you’ll have as much fun reminiscing and singing along as we did this evening.