Music review: Lionel Richie, McDiarmid Park, Perth

So synonymous is Lionel Richie with radio-friendly romantic balladry that it's easy to forget his former outfit, The Commodores, mastered raw, down-and-dirty Southern funk lasciviousness that bordered on the animalistic. Sadly, only the anthemic, hugely danceable Brick House survives as a reminder of that naked raunch in his current live set, the hard-edged groove standing out like the fuller-figured lady it pays tribute to.
Lionel Richie PIC: Alan SilfenLionel Richie PIC: Alan Silfen
Lionel Richie PIC: Alan Silfen

Music review: Lionel Richie, McDiarmid Park, Perth ****

The fact that he neither wrote or originally sang on that track is indicative of where the singer’s heart truly lies. Approaching his 69th birthday, Richie’s stage presence remains considerable. And if his jokey, seductive patter between songs is frequently hoary, the overall performance is as solid as his back catalogue.

Opening with the laid-back country vibe of Easy, he allowed his band to rock out on Running With The Night before making the first of countless appeals to the women in the audience with Three Times A Lady, his crystalline piano dissipating out into the night sky. Deprived of Diana Ross to duet with on Endless Love, he entreated them to sing for her, a feat they performed in enthusiastic unison.

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Hits like Hello and the mawkishly saccharine We Are The World have a cheesiness that can only be embraced. The soaring melodies have endured for a reason and Ritchie interspersed them with up-tempo tunes like Dancing On The Ceiling and the smooth 90s R’n’B of My Destiny, creating a party atmosphere that lasted way beyond the encore of All Night Long.