Lionel Richie took over KeyArena with his All the Hits All Night Long tour on May 30th. I see a lot of shows in smaller venues, and just two nights before stood so close to one of my favorite singers that I could have reached out and touched him if I wanted to be creepy. Arena shows typically leave me feeling like I’ve just watched the band perform on TV, so to be honest I didn’t have high hopes that Lionel would truly have me up “all night long” while “dancing on the ceiling.” I’m the type of girl who will gladly admit that I was wrong – like just a moment ago, when I shamelessly used a trick that other writers have already done by taking Lionel’s song titles to drive home my point? Yeah, that was wrong. I promise to not do that again. I’ll also gladly admit that I was wrong to have such low expectations for Lionel Richie. I was so, so wrong about that.
Lionel Richie looks exactly the same as you remember him from his videos back in the ’80s. Same mustache, same swagger. And the man can work a room. Couples swayed and ladies swooned as Lionel, a master storyteller – among other things, talked and sang of love and loss. When he says All the Hits he means it. Commodores, solo material, even the hit “We are the World” that he co-wrote with Michael Jackson. He led us through our younger days, reminding us all that we turned to him when we were in love and when we needed consolation for our broken hearts. Rather than fight the past, Lionel seemed happy to remember along with us that we may have first experienced his music by listening to an album, a CD, a cassette, or even an 8-track tape. He sang, and we sang right along with him. He danced, and we danced right along with him. Every single one of us, because we were under his spell. When Lionel Richie tells you to get up and dance, you get up and dance.
It seemed that every person in that audience, and certainly those surrounding me, felt like Lionel was singing just to them. It felt like a personal, intimate experience. It felt like a party. And while some concert-goers had too much fun, those of us who heeded Lionel’s sage advice that “alcohol is not the answer!” had just the right amount of fun.