For as long as I can remember, his music has been a part of my life. Born in 1978, I grew up on the sounds of Lionel Richie, in all variations, and have most of his hits etched into my musical memory indefinitely. I have the double CD and piano sheet music book version of his "Anthology" greatest hits album--these are some of my favourite musical possessions.
Performing a string of hits, one after the other, all received enthusiastically from fans, Richie's legendary status was undeniable. As he mentioned in one of his many interactions with the audience, the reason why people laugh out loud or even bawl tears during his performances is because each of his classic songs are tied to specific memories for so many of us. Before singing "Three Times a Lady," for example, he declared that many people in the room either got engaged, got married, or got into other forms of mischief to his song.
Lionel as a pianist is where my heart's appreciation truly is. To see him on stage playing the instrument, dancing, jumping, and singing LIVE (which we can't take for granted, these days) is another confirmation that even at the age of 70 (his milestone birthday passed just a little over a week ago on June 20) his fire is still burning as strong as ever, as a musician, an entertainer, and a beloved part of so many of our memories.
I watched a gentleman and his wife slow dance and swoon to "Hello" and "Say You, Say Me," and speculated that maybe Lionel Richie created the first dance at their wedding, or the "song" of their relationship. I witnessed another fellow, over 70, take to the aisles when Lionel went into his Commodores hits like "Brick House" and break into some expert level footwork that must have had him tearing up dancefloors back in the 70s. He transformed into someone else, and was the star of our section of the stands. It was wonderful to witness.
While I was there to watch Lionel Richie perform, I was actually most intrigued by the fans around me. At 41, I was still easily one of the youngest attendees there. But it was refreshing to see couples, friends, groups, and music lovers of all races with cans of beer in hands and dressed in their summer best, having an amazing night out under the stars. We were blessed with 20+ degree weather all day yesterday in Toronto, and the weather was absolutely perfect and fitting for the excellent night out.
The singalongs were marvellous, as Richie fans took over most of the show crooning the lyrics to "Endless Love" and "Dancing on the Ceiling," and there wasn't a word missed as they sang along to their favourite songs.
|(via Eric Alper)|
Lionel has been a consummate musician for decades. Minor drama, lots of music, and a presence that seems to be welcome in any town, venue, or setting he arrives in. I wondered what it felt like to be HIM. To have written and performed so much great music, and to still be alive and well to enjoy the feedback. Think of how many legends we've lost in music, to drugs, or untimely passing. Think of how lucky Lionel is to be able to still do what he loves, and still share that magic with us, his fans.
Music is probably the single most inspirational force in my life, and just being in the venue, hearing those songs for the millionth time, and being able to sing along and enjoy the festive ambience was a treat to say the least. There is nothing else I'd rather do, and nowhere else I'd rather be than in that exact type of environment.
So thank you to Lionel Richie, yet again, for an amazing concert experience, decades of amazing music, and for reminding me that the keys to life and the secrets to happiness--a youthful spirit, and an eternally hip soul--really is just as simple as surrounding yourself with good music, good vibes, and a brilliant entertainer who knows exactly how to combine all of those forces, sharing them with thousands of supporters around the world for yet another year of his career.
The "Hello" tour continues until mid-September of this year, and I already can't wait until the next tour stops in Toronto!
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.