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Review: Lionel Richie, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

IT began with Hello, and after an array of classics detailing every romantic predicament and a rip-off of a YouTube sensation, it finished with Goodbye.

IT began with Hello, and after an array of classics detailing every romantic predicament and a rip-off of a YouTube sensation, it finished with Goodbye.

At 63 Lionel Richie is still packing out arenas and his iconic voice, while perhaps not as strong, is as smooth and soulful as it was in the 80s.

Richie’s latest tour titled Tuskegee is thankfully not true to his new album of the same name – a collection of the Grammy award winner’s hits recorded as country duets.

Instead the singer treated his adoring fans to a string of smooth renditions of their favourite singles.

The audience, most of whom were probably frequenting discos when Richie was in his prime, lapped it up, dancing all night long and leaving their seats surplus to requirements.

And while his appearance in an advert for a certain potato-based snack made it difficult not to cringe as he belted out the original version of Say You, Say Me, the performance was proof that Lionel Richie has still got it.

The most striking thing about the show was the moustachioed maestro’s connection with his audience and his acute awareness of his role.

Richie even began to parody himself in a stunt that could have passed for arrogant were it not so observant.

Describing three romantic scenarios in which one might need inspiring, the singer then ushered in his new catchphrase “enter Lionel Richie”, each time reeling off a couple of classic love songs while he caressed the keys at his piano.

However, this gimmick was upstaged when out of nowhere Richie’s upbeat Caribbean track All Night Long turned in to his own version of Korean sensation PSY’s Gangnam Style – “Lionel Richie style”.

It was the cheesy crescendo on a thoroughly entertaining evening and it showed an attempt to connect to the younger members of the audience.

This was a performance for his diehard fans though, and no true Lionel Richie fan could argue he failed to deliver.

Rory Brigstock-Barron

 
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