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Review Lionel Richie at 3Arena Dublin - 'His patter was almost as winning as his music'


US singer Lionel Richie performs on stage

US singer Lionel Richie performs on stage

AFP/Getty Images

US singer Lionel Richie performs on stage

Lionel Richie's imperiously cheesy pop has weathered the decades better than anyone – the former Commodores frontman included – could surely have expected. Once regarded as the epitome of naff, nowadays twinkle-toed hits All Night Long (All Night) and Dancing On The Ceiling stand tall and proud as first rank smashes.

On stage, Richie is the perfect ambassador for his glitter-ball catalogue. Approaching the end of an exhaustive trawl of the arenas of Ireland and the UK, the supremely spritely 65-year-old was endlessly amiable and winningly deprecating. No matter how theoretically absurd you may find toe-curler ballads such as Ballerina Girl, Richie's unforced charisma won you over anyway.

Richie had a YouTube moment when footage of the singer pursing his lips as he watched Kanye West unleash a flurry of expletives on stage at the Brit Awards went viral. That he would find Kanye's crassness discommoding is no surprise: Richie is nothing if not old-school, a song-and-dance man who understands that, to bring a crowd over to your side, it is better to charm than bludgeon.

Indeed his patter was almost as winning as his music. He expressed surprise at actual sunshine outside his hotel and repeatedly commended the audience for their good looks (a compliment that might have been returned to strikingly preserved sexagenarian). 

What the concert made clear is that Richie's truly great moments are unsurpassable. Seated at piano, he delivered emotive readings of Commodores' staples Easy and My Love; later, shaking his hips in the manner of someone generations younger, he slipped and slided through Hello and Don't Stop The Music. It was a reminder that, among entertainers, ridiculousness is no crime and that, should all else fail, the ability to stay groovy no matter what, will always get you over the finish line.

Online Editors

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