Date: October 17, 2013
City: San Jose, CA
Venue: SAP Center
Artist: Lionel Richie
Opening Act(s): Dumpstafunk
Lionel Richie has been high on my must see legends list for a while. When I saw the announcement that he was part of the ACL lineup I was bummed that I chose to go to ACL last year and not this year. But I was also hopeful that it meant he would be touring. I jumped on the tickets for his show at HP Pavilion (now SAP Center) when they went on sale especially after hearing that the title of the tour was “All The Hits All Night Long”. I was hoping that meant Commodore songs too.
Although the venue stated that the show was sold out I was very disappointed to see that there were several rows in the 200s that were covered by black curtains. Having been to SAP Center for the sold out Maroon 5 show earlier this year, I know those rows were not out of commission. I couldn’t believe Lionel Richie didn’t really sell out.
Lionel was very entertaining and interacted with the crowd often throughout his set. He started the show with “Just For You”. The crowd went crazy as soon as he walked onto the stage. He followed up with a slower version of “Penny Lover”. I didn’t recognize it at first. It was a bit concerning that he might have reworked all of his hits and not perform them as they were originally recorded. While he may not have done full versions of his songs – how could he with his catalog of music – he did keep them close to their original recordings throughout the rest of the show.
He talked about how we had been together for a very long time. He said part of the audience would remember his songs from when they first came out and the other half would remember their mom playing the songs non-stop throughout their childhood. You could hear the agreement of the audience as he spoke. He said that by the end of the night he was going to take us all back in time and that with each song we would remember “What you were doing. Where you were. And who you were with.”
The third song in was “Easy”. Yes! A Commodores song! From there he went from hit to hit thrilling the crowd as each began. He teased the crowd about having called Diana Ross to see if she would join him on stage to perform “Endless Love”. We were disappointed (yet not completely surprised) that she said no. Instead, Lionel had the audience sing the Diana Ross portion.
In the middle of his set, Lionel talked about how we had gone through the three stages of relationships with him throughout his career. He labeled these three stages as 1) I’m in love, 2) The relationship is over and 3) I’m devastated because my love is with someone else. Each of these has at least one Lionel Richie song affiliated with it. He started with disaster; my relationship is over. When this happens you go home and you pull out your CD, your cassette, your 8-track and you call on Lionel Richie to get you through it. He performed “Still” for this relationship stage.
Next was devastation. You go to a party and you see the person you were going to spend the rest of your life with is with someone else. You again go home and you pull out your CD, your cassette, your 8-track and you call on Lionel Richie to get you through it. The song for this stage was “Oh No”. The final stage was you’re in love. Again you go home and you pull out your CD, your cassette, your 8-track and this time he said he would even let us download. The song for this final stage was “Stuck on You”.
After he performed “Dancing on the Ceiling” he told a story about how “Three Times a Lady” was inspired by his dad giving a speech about his mom. Then commented that his dad tried for the rest of his life to get royalties for being the inspiration for the song. He followed “Three Times a Lady” with a series of Commodores songs – “Sail On”, “Fancy Dancer”, “Sweet Love”, “Lady (You Bring Me Up)”, “Just to be Close to You” and “Zoom”.
Next was “Say You, Say Me”. I remember this song from high school because it was slow and then sped up in the middle of the song. No one at school dances knew what to do when the fast part came on. He was right, I knew what I was doing, where I was and who I was with.
Thankfully he also did “Brick House” which got a lot of the people in the crowd up and dancing around. It’s so cute to see some of the older couples grooving and enjoying every minute of these classic shows. Lionel did a cover of the Ohio Players’ “Fire” just before he got the crowd to sing along to “Hello”. Before he sang this song he mentioned that no matter what country or language the crowd always sings along to this song. This led into the pre-encore song “All Night Long (All Night)”.
The show ended with Lionel telling us that his two grandchildren came to him one day and said they learned a song in school and that they were told that he had something to do with it. The song was “We Are the World” and was co-written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. The entire audience sang along while waving their arms from side to side. A great way to end an incredible show.
Lionel Richie worked the stage well, but I think he could have done a better job of paying attention to the side seats (where I was seated). He would look in an angled direction to the seats toward the sides, but not directly to the side. He was a great performer and I enjoyed the story telling.
New Orleans funk band Dumpstafunk opened up the show. They were ok, but they seemed more blues than funk to me. It was also weird that the venue lights were on during their set. It was more like they were there in place of a vamping track.