By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
Photos and videos by Meredith Winner | Mer-Made Photography
ATLANTIC CITY – Young people today think of Lionel Richie as one of the three judges on the current rendition of “American Idol” on ABC or the father of model Sofia Richie and reality personality Nicole Richie.
Back in the 1970s and 1980, Richie was one of the biggest names in entertainment on the planet, rivaling Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, first as the lead singer of the R&B group The Commodores and then as a solo act.
At the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s Etess Arena Friday (July 12), the Oscar-winning and five-time Grammy Award-winning singer took nearly 7,000 fans through his vast songbook in a trip down memory lane that had the crowd dancing in their seats and down the aisles.
While one would not be surprised to find people attending the concert in the 50’s, who lived through the height of Richie’s success, but there were young fans were not even born at the time of his biggest hits.
The diversity in the audience was proof of Richie’s staying power as an entertainer, but also how timeless many of his classic are. Opening the show with such Richie standards as “Running With the Night,” Penny Lover,” and “Dancing on the Ceiling,” the singer sent the crowd into a frenzy.
He performed many of his hits with The Commodores as well, including the songs like “Brick House,” “Easy,” and “Three Times a Lady,” where he quipped that men either “got married, got engaged, or got in a lot of trouble” with the song.
The crowd joined Richie in a rendition of “We Are the World,” the song he wrote with Jackson as a fundraiser for USA for Africa in 1985. He and Jackson won the Grammy for Song of the Year for that tune in 1986.
Richie, who established himself as one of the 1980’s best crooners as well as dance music artists, ran through his range of love songs as well, including “Truly,” “Sweet Love,” “My Love,” “Hello,” and “Endless Love.”
The latter song, which was originally a duet with R&B icon Diana Ross for the motion picture of the same name, turned into a singalong with the audience singing Ross’s part of the song.
Richie also belted out probably his best-known movie song “Say You, Say Me,” from the 1985 movie “White Knights,” starting Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Richie won an Academy Award in 1986 for Best Original Song for the tune.
Richie’s songs are the soundtrack of some many late-stage baby boomers, something Richie joked about in talking with the audience.
“Someone told me, ‘I grew up on your songs.’ I said that I grew up on them, too,” Richie said.
Richie’s constant interaction with the audience made the concert personally appealing as well as entertaining look back at the music that shaped a generation. While his latest gig on ABC may be winning him new fans, there are many of his original fans that still get excited listening to him belt out the old hits.
The Hard Rock Atlantic City provided plenty of proof for that. He returned onstage quickly to perform one of his biggest hits “All Night Long” to the delight of those attending before ending the show.
Richie performed at the Hard Rock on Saturday (July 13) as well. The rest of his Hello Tour schedule included:
*July 15, The Wolf Trip, Vienna, Va.
*July 17-18, Radio City Music Hall, New York City
*July 20, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.
*July 23, Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, N.Y.
*July 25, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
*July 27, Seminole Hard Rock Live Event Center, Hollywood, Fla.
*July 28, Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.
*July 31, Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Atlanta
*Aug. 2, Live at The Garden, Memphis, Tenn.
*Aug. 5, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
*Aug. 6, Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, Calif.
*Aug. 9-10, Encore Theater, Las Vegas
*Aug. 14, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colo.
*Aug. 17, Lake Tahoe Harveys Outdoor Arena, Stateline, Nev.
*Aug. 20, Maymoor Park, Redmond, Wash.
*Aug. 21, Theater of the Clouds at Rose Garden Arena, Portland, Ore.
*Aug. 24, Frost Amphitheater, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
*Aug. 30, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, Minn.
*Sept. 12, Live Park, Rishon LetZion, Israel