Saturday 16 November 2019

Richie dazzles the audience all night long

Review: Pop Lionel Richie 3Arena, Dublin

Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie

Ed Power

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.

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top