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ACL Fest review: Lionel Richie

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Ramon Ramirez

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 6, 2013

Curious about Lionel Richie’s ACL set? Listen to our Spotify playlist of the songs he played.

Richie and his five-piece band emerged in coordinated outfits and unguarded spirit Sunday night, strolling through a deep catalog of lovey dovey epics that dates to the late ’60s. It wasn’t an optimistic start in terms of numbers—Phoenix, Shuggie Otis and others hoarded hearts and minds and left wandering patrons wiped. Roaming to the front was a breeze—a far cry from more youthful Sunday night headliners (Arcade Fire in 2011; Coldplay in 2005) of ACLs past. It eventually filled in tightly like Lionel Richie’s half-his-age, plexiglass encased drummer. Richie took us from “8 track to cassette to CD” like the glory never faded. I polled some at-the-front neighbors and the consensus was that this would be a “boom or bust” performance that was worth a look. It was a smart call just for the “Hello” piano spotlight. Richie’s jovial spirit and unhinged presence (he wore black leather pants and a leather vest) carried the night. His young gun five-piece band played dueling pupils and it was great, though a few more live horns would have been nice: you can only run so much through two keyboards before the cruise ship vibes kick in.

“We’re gonna play every damn song we can think of right now,” Richie boasted. He then eased onto the keys and sipped white wine. His ’80s catalog was represented with flawless canned grandeur: gorgeously cheesy salsa breakdowns during “All Night Long,” rolled up blazer sleeve swagger during “You Are.” He closed with a Michael Jackson tribute of “We Are the World,” an endlessly opportunistic and dated mid-’80s ballad that worked beautifully because of its honest, true message.

“Who you gonna call?” He beckoned his crowd of “30,000 Diana Rosses,” “Lionel.”


Just for You

Penny Lover

Easy (Commodores song)

Ballerina girl

You are

Endless love

Running with the night

Still (Commodores)

Oh No (commodores)

Stuck on You

Dancing on the Ceiling

Sail On (Commodores)

Fancy Dancer (Commodores)

Lady (You Bring Me Up) (Commodores)

Say You, Say Me

Brick House

Fire (Ohio Players cover)


All Night Long

We are the World