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Lionel Richie Brings Classics to Barclays Center: Concert Review

Lionel Richie Performing - P 2013
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The Bottom Line

Whether you want to dance or make out, you'll be fully satisfied with this evening combining classic ballads and funk jams.

Venue

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York (Tuesday, Sept. 24)

The veteran chart-topper delivers dozens of hits in his career-spanning show.

Lionel Richie made good on at least one of the promises of his current month-long All the Hits All Night Long Tour Tuesday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. He didn’t play all night long -- more like two hours -- but he did deliver more than two dozen of the pop hits from both his days with the Commodores and his hugely successful solo career.

After years of relatively unsuccessful releases, the singer unexpectedly hit the big time again with last year’s Tuskegee, in which he performed duets of his hits with a gallery of country stars. It marked his first No. 1 album on the Billboard charts in more than 25 years.

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The 64-year-old singer revealed no signs of his age during the fast-paced evening in which he seemed determined to include as many crowd favorites as possible. “Let’s keep it going, let’s keep it going,” he announced early on, as if to make sure that nobody went home disappointed. Looking and sounding as good as he did a quarter-century ago, he delivered a high-energy set that well mixed his trademark balladry with the funkier songs from his Commodore days.

He garnered cheers before he even set foot onstage, when he sang the opening notes of his hit “Hello.” That song was delivered later in the evening, as he instead began with the relatively recent “Just for You” (2004) before warming up the crowd’s hormonal instincts with such love songs as “Penny Lover,” “Easy,” “Ballerina Girl,” “You  Are” and “Truly.”

His easy rapport with the crowd was demonstrated with amusing banter, including a funny riff on his supposedly inviting Diana Ross to join him in Brooklyn to perform their duet “Endless Love” only to receive a resounding “No!” As a replacement, he asked the female audience members to sing her part, an invitation to which they enthusiastically responded.  

Whenever things threatened to get bogged down with ballads, he would unleash a high-energy number like “Running with the Night” and “Dancing on the Ceiling” to rev up the crowd. Witnessing their gyrations, he jokingly commented, “I haven’t seen dancing like that since 1984.” His excellent five-piece band was afforded the opportunity for numerous solos, including extended electric guitar and saxophone breaks. The classic “Brick House,” featuring an interpolation of the Ohio Players’ “Fire,” was delivered with impressive funkiness, while “All Night Long” was infused with an energetic salsa jam.

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He combined a bunch of Commodores classics together mid-show to excellent effect. Such songs as “Sail On,” “Fancy Dancer,” Sweet Love,” Lady (You Bring Me Up)” and “Zoom” were a vivid reminder of that landmark group’s enduring appeal.

His encore was the historic anthem “We Are the World,” movingly prefaced with an introduction about collaborating with Michael Jackson and how the song was the most important he’s ever written.

The tour ends with an Oct. 18 date at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl.  

Set List

Just for You

Penny Lover

Easy/My Love

Ballerina Girl

You Are

Truly

Endless Love

Running with the Night

Still

Oh No

Stuck on You

Dancing on the Ceiling

Three Times a Lady

Love Will Find a Way

The Only One

I Call It Love

Sail On

Fancy Dancer

Sweet Love

Lady (You Bring Me Up)

Just to Be Close to You

Zoom

Say You, Say Me

Brick House

Hello

All Night Long (All Night)

Encore: We Are the World