Lionel Richie blows us away in the UK
When this year’s Eden Sessions were first announced there were some interesting names on it and the first of these was megastar Lionel Richie. Starting way back in the mid ‘70s with The Commodores Lionel moved on to astonishing success and soon became a household name. The first set of tickets sold out in next to no time and thankfully Lionel managed to fit in another night which also rapidly sold out. I was fortunate to go to the first of these shows and as I made my way to the venue it was with mixed feelings as to what to expect.
On the walk down to the Eden stage there were people dressed as pixies, one on a giant mushroom and two others on giant snails who cracked Lionel lyric jokes as people passed. The first who had her head down staring at the ground suddenly looked up and said “Oh hello, is it me you’re looking for” whilst the snail riding pixies said “It’s going to take us ages to get there at this rate. Will probably take us all night long.” These comment drew a chuckle from the passing fans and lightened the mood as people started to congregate inside the arena.
First up was Corinne Bailey Rae who has just released her third album entitled The Heart Speaks In Whispers. I remember her big hit “Put Your Records On” but haven’t heard anything from her since and I was pleased to be seeing her live. As she made her way onto the stage she was dressed from head to toe in a shiny silver jumpsuit and took up her position at the center of the stage. From the very start she sounded fantastic but it seemed that most people weren’t that interested in listening and large groups stood around chatting to each other as she played.
Her mellow somewhat soulful sound was very relaxing and may have suited a smaller more intimate venue but this didn’t detract from her performance in my eyes. With this said, it was her biggest hit to date that grabbed my attention most and she absolutely nailed it. She didn’t have much to say to the crowd and unfortunately her set was rather short but she was only the support and definitely someone I would like to see play live again.
As the sporadic rain clouds passed above us the heavens opened but it was nearly time for the main event so people covered up the best they could. As the clouds departed a cheer went out around the crowd and Lionel’s band made their way onto the stage. They were joined shortly afterwards by the main man himself and we were underway. Lionel has been receiving rave reviews recently and it was instantly clear why. He sounded amazing and looked as if he was pleased to be adding his name to the impressive list of people who’ve graced the stage at this iconic venue.
The subdued atmosphere had now gone and it was time to party. The hits came thick and fast and Lionel had the audience eating from his hand as he chatted between songs. Lionel’s backing band also looked to be enjoying the night as big smiles were worn by it’s members. Some of these members joined him center stage and this made for an impressive sight as Lionel was flanked by his guitarist and bass player.
As things slowed down Lionel sat at his piano and I think he sounded even better but it was watching him patrol the Eden stage that I enjoyed the most. For a guy who’s approaching his 67th birthday he’s got a lot of stamina and this was there for all to see. The singalong tracks were left to the end but it was well worth the wait and it’s probably some of the best crowd participation I’ve ever seen at the Eden Sessions. I’ve heard people saying this was the best Eden Session yet and I may have to agree with them. As I watched Lionel work the crowd for the last few songs another thing that stood out was there was no river of people heading up the Eden pathways to get to their cars. Sometimes what seems like half the crowd have gone before the last song starts but tonight the number of deserters was very few. Perhaps the credit for this is not just the fantastic performance Lionel was putting on for us but maybe it also had something to do with the way the set list was written down.
The final song of the night was fittingly “All Night Long” which sent the crowd home in high spirits as they made the uphill walk to their cars. I can’t think of a much better song to end any set and I’m so glad it sits on the list till the end of the night.
The whole night ran like clockwork, other than the little bit of rain, and Lionel proved why he’s loved by so many. It’s great to see such a big name performer turn up and work so hard for his paycheque and perhaps some of the young up and coming wannabes could learn something from the legend that is Mr. Lionel Richie. My only disappointment is that I only got a ticket for the first night as he’s doing it all again tomorrow.