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Live Review and Gallery – Lionel Richie at United Center

| August 30, 2017 | 1 Comment

Lionel Richie
United Center, Chicago
Saturday, August 26

Between a Las Vegas residency to headlining mega-festivals such as Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Glastonbury as of late, it’s been a minute since Lionel Richie last came through Chicago. Although it’s also been awhile since he recorded an original album (2009’s Just Go), it was the promise of  “All The Hits” that finally filled up the United Center after postponing due to an injury earlier this year.

Technically speaking, the solo singer/songwriter and one-time Commodore didn’t have time to tackle absolutely everything that cruised up the charts, but for somewhere around 100 minutes, each song he selected was immediately recognizable. Besides boasting so many mighty love ballads and soulful pop standards, Richie at 68 sounds and looks practically identical to the days when he was dancing on the ceiling (well, expect for maybe those outrageous outfits that reeked of the ‘80s at their most excessive).

The hospitable performer tore right into the show’s purpose at the piano for The Commodores’ “Easy” and “My Love,” but quickly shed his seat, and from there, just kept “Running With The Night” around the triangular stage. As the smashes kept coming (“Truly,” “You Are,” “Three Times A Lady,” “Sail On,” “Hello,” “Say You, Say Me”), so did the sing-a-longs with Richie pouring nothing but romance and positivity on an audience surely sick of politics, finger-pointing and society circa 2017 in general.

While all of Richie’s selections were “oldies” by comparison, they managed to escape sounding dated thanks to five younger musicians who freshened up the arrangements and could’ve easily backed guys like Bruno Mars or Justin Timberlake. They even spiced up “Brick House,” his last band’s defining moment, with a splash of The Ohio Players’ “Fire,” transferring it from a mere guilty pleasure into a boiling funk groove.

One of the most meaningful moments came when Richie paused the party to reflect on so many of the musical greats lost in the last few years (Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Natalie Cole) prior to “We Are The World,” which he of course co-wrote with late legend Michael Jackson. Though Richie falls somewhere in the middle of those potent peers in terms of influence, thankfully he’s still here and dead serious when it comes

-Review and Gallery by Andy Argyrakis

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  1. Melissa Macklin says:

    I am seeing him this Sunday in Vancouver and I could not be more excited. I have literally waited my entire life to see Lionel Richie live.

    When I was a kid, may parents played The Commodores. From there I have continued to follow him and loved all his music. This is really a bucket list concert for me.

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