It is amazing how an artist’s body of work, generated in a short span of four years, can literally redefine a musician’s previous decade-long recording career while simultaneously creating another legion of admirers to go along with an already established fan base.
Hello Lionel Richie!
You can’t help but nod your head in appreciation to this American idol – pun intended – whose soulful, heartfelt approach to songwriting has been wowing audiences worldwide going on six decades. That’s right, I said six decades.
A near capacity crowd at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park in Atlanta got its money’s worth and more as Richie presented a 17-song set list that featured seven No. 1 ballads and anthems, a little ditty of a tune he wrote for a soundtrack as well as a composition he co-wrote that helped raise $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the United States.
There was a lot of depth going on this evening not only from this 70-year old icon on stage, but from the audience itself. There’s no doubt that Richie brought back a flood of memories to many in attendance who sang the music and lovingly danced to many of the iconic ballads brought to life by Richie and his masterful five-piece backing band.
Yes, there were videos, funny stories and quite a few sing-a-longs, but this night really was reserved for an audience, new and old, to capture moments from their own past that many of this balladeer’s songs brought to life when performed onstage.
What’s amazing about this concert was the specific period of time in this 70-year old’s songwriting career the show focused on. Half the songs paid tribute to Richie’s original musical vehicle, the Commodores, more specifically the albums released from 1976 to 1981.
The most memorable part of this concert, however, was relegated to the specific recordings Richie composed from October 1982 thru July 1986 that established him as one of the greatest songwriters in the world.
A lot of reviews will focus on Lionel Richie the entertainer, and rightfully so. But the thing that made this evening particularly meaningful was the simplicity and beauty of the songs themselves. About every facet of Richie’s personality were on display as he was flanked by huge video screens coupled with a very impressive light show. There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
To truly appreciate the depth and scope of the singer / songwriter’s 2019 Hello Tour, you need to take a really close look at the period of time the evening’s performance centered around. Almost all artists have a very small window of time at the beginning of their careers to make their mark in the music business before their star finally flames out. This Alabama native defied the odds and saved his very best for last.
After spending 13 years and recording nine albums with the Commodores, Richie finally went solo. In the course of four years (1982-86), the songwriter would write five No. 1 singles, a host of Top Ten hits, receive a Grammy, win an Oscar and co-write an iconic worldwide hit to raise money for African famine relief. All were performed tonight.
Again, in the process of those four explosive years for Richie, he sold 20 million albums in the U.S. alone while endearing himself to a legion of new fans that still remain emotionally attached to him. Only one artist I can think of – Sting – can stand in this man’s shadow because what he achieved is so rare.
Simply put, tonight’s ‘brick house’ performance had fans ‘running with the night’ as they smiled, sang and maybe even shed a tear as Lionel Richie showered everyone with ‘endless love’ as they sashayed away to the evening’s musical extravaganza ‘all night long’.
– David Huff