It’s been quite a year for Lionel Richie, from launching his eye-popping, gazillion-date tour at the tender age of 65 no less, to joining Pharrell William’s as a mentor for his team on the Voice USA.
After a stunning supporting performance from Corinne Bailey Rae and numerous Mexican waves, suddenly the light’s went out, and words “Hellooooooooooooo, is it me you’re looking for?” sounded out across the venue. As Lionel appeared in the spotlight, all the anticipation evolved quickly into a high energy crowd, welcoming the rather outstanding performance from the legend of soul.
Richie teased the audience on several occasions thanking them for ‘your performance tonight’, which the crowd enjoyed.
With classics leading the set from the off such as Easy, Running With the Night and Penny Lover the audience were on their feet in no time, and taking no prisoners Lionel smirked “You can’t sit in my show!”.
Superstar confidence isn’t something that can just be a gift, yes a performance can be flawless to a gifted artist, but Lionel Richie shows the skills that have to be fine tuned to become one of the world’s greatest living Godfathers of Soul. Having had a career spanning many generations he understands the crowds reactions better than they understand it themselves. Just his current world tour, no doubt has more performance dates in it than many individuals would ever go to concerts in their lifetime. He commanded the audience with his outstanding vocals and communication with everyone inside the room. He is a director and a choreographer, with each element of the process carefully crafted and thought out.
From the Commodore hits, including tracks like Brick House, to his well known solo ballads – Three Times and Lady, Sail On, Say You Say Me which he took to his own personalised piano to perform with the initials L R inscribed on in gold lettering, Richie wowed each of his fans which he had comically split into three distinct groups. His band were also a vibrant testament to the epic energy Lionel can bring to the stage with incredible performances from drums, bass and even an upside down slot from his sax player. Another highlight was Endless Love,” where he encouraged the audience to sing Diana Ross’s part. Even though she said no to coming to Birmingham, I’ve got 6000 women who tonight, can be Diana!”
The one we had been waiting for however was as you might be able to guess, All Night Long. This got the whole audience to their feet lifting the Arena’s spirits to new heights, everyone in the venue sang along and it was definitely a favourite with couples. After a rocketing applause which lasted nearly 5 minutes Richie came on again, and humbly paid tribute to the late Michael Jackson, with the greatest charity single of all time, now 30 years old, We Are the World which he wrote with the Jackson all those years ago.
An incredible show and one that proved that Birmingham is a favoured city for artists who perform here, as despite the weather (which Richie wondered what on Earth kind of weather it even was), said that if all the people of Birmingham were like those in the audience he wanted to move here.