Lionel Richie @ Sheffield Arena
As I walked into Sheffield Arena, mother in hand, I was dubious that seeing Lionel Richie was going to be some kind of froth fest for fifty-something females. Although these ladies were there to hark back to that time when they were 17 listening to their Lionel vinyl, pining over teenage heartbreaks; they weren’t alone. As Lionel put it himself, there were in fact three different groups of people there. Group one, the Commodore clan who have stuck with him through his 40+ years in the industry, group two, the ‘all night longs’ that jumped on his solo bandwagon in the ’80s and finally a new group, group three, the younger generation in their teens and twenties who have grown up listening to Lionel’s back catalogue as a result of their parents in groups one and two.
What I did not expect was to be completely bowled over. This man is incredible. He got da funk. Total master of swag. Seriously he was cool as fuck. At the ripe old age of 67 Lionel rolled out hit after hit after hit. He covered everything from the slowies – ‘Penny Lover’, ‘Stuck On You’, ‘Easy’, ‘Hello’, ‘Ballerina Girl’ and ‘Still’ which had everyone arm in arm, to the lovey dovey classics like ‘Endless Love’ (minus Diana Ross obvs) and ‘Three Times A Lady’ – which I am sure will have graced many a wedding dance floor or contributed to fertilising some eggs over the years (perhaps helping to populate group three). Finally the party tunes rolled out; ‘Running With The Night’, ‘Brick House’, ‘You Are My Destiny’, ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ and ‘All Night Long’, all of which had even the most mature audience members on their feet. To top it all off he was hilarious – he could totally do stand up and when his hips decide dancing isn’t for them anymore. A complete all round entertainer.
Words: Lisa Pullen
Photography: Timothy Taylor