Hello (and thank you) Lionel!

“I’ve been alone with you inside my mind…”

This is the line that captures why there is still so much love for Lionel Richie after all these years. At some point or another, we’ve been alone, a Lionel Richie tune playing in the background, thinking about love. Regardless of if the love was going well or not, the music made an imprint.

That’s how I feel, anyway. And that’s why I absolutely loved seeing Lionel Richie: All The Hits All Night Long Tour as it made a stop  at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, a few of weeks ago. It was like seeing an old friend; being brought back to my childhood and adolescent years, even sometimes, to exact moments.

Ahhh, the power of music.

You’ll remember how excited I was to get the tickets. That day, I counted down the minutes to leave work, met up with my mom and we made our way downtown.

CeeLo Green opened, and, well let’s just say that I’m not a fan. So we waited patiently for him to get through his cover songs and sing the only two songs I know, which were “Crazy” and “Forget You”. However needless to say, not many people were out of their seats during his act.

That was not the case when Lionel hit the stage. Everyone stood and danced as he took us on a musical journey through all the hits, from the Commodores and through the 80s and onwards. He is one talented 65 year old!

He was very engaging with the crowd, telling stories, dancing, playing the piano. His stories are great, and had everyone laughing. One in particular had him pointing out that we all looked really good. “You all got older and I stayed the same,” he laughed. He broke the crowd into three groups, and asked us to let him know which group we belonged to.

The first group was there from the very beginning. Through the afros and the jumpsuits and loved him from his early days as a Commodore.

[Queue cheers from my mother, amongst many others]

The second group has been with him for a long, long time too. From his jheri curls to the tight pants and we danced on the ceiling with him in the 80s.

[Queue cheers from me and even more people]

And the last group is the group of those that refer to him as “Mr. Richie”. They are the ones who say “Mr. Richie, my mothers, cousins, aunts, friends, grandmothers all listened to your music all the time.”

[Queue the younger girl sitting in front of me]

He went on to say that while he likes all his fans, but asked that these newer fans to really listen to the words. To understand that he was honoured to write songs about love and heat break. That all the mothers, cousins, aunts, friends and grandmothers in the crowd are the ones that turned to his music to help get through those moments in life.

He knew all of us went home after a date (good or bad) and pulled out our 8-tracks, cassette tapes, albums and CDs. He even threw in the downloads for those “Mr. Richie” fans!

And he was so right.

For over an hour and a half, he sang song after song, from Ballerina Girl, Easy, Penny Lover, Running with the Night, to Say You, Say Me, Truly, Stuck on You, Brick House and Still. When he started to talk about recording Endless Love with Diana Ross, he said that he asked her to come, even going so far as implying she was in the dressing room. The crowd went bananas and he laughed and said that he was only telling a story and that she couldn’t make it. We were going to be the Diana Ross to his Lionel Richie. And the crowd sang in unison, while he played the piano and sang.

His grand finale started with a few bars of Hello, and as he said his goodbye, cell phones lit up the Amphitheatre as we sang with him.

A friend asked me if he was the Julio of our time. (Julio Iglesias, for those who don’t know who I mean). And while I think everyone in attendance that night was excited, I don’t know that we necessarily swooned over Lionel, the way I saw women swoon over Julio.

I think it felt good, hearing great songs from long ago. I was amazing to be in a crowd of people, all who know every word to every song. He put it all out there; took us all on a journey and we enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks, Lionel! You were amazing.

Happy Monday! Enjoy the original video of Hello.


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