Tuesday, April 8, 2014

All Night Long: Lionel Richie Live in Manila

Words by Kix Suarez
Photos by Kris Rocha

Last Saturday, while all the kids flocked to Makati for Close Up Forever Summer, the young at heart braved Manila traffic and headed straight to Araneta Center, Cubao. As the millennials raved the night way for their EDM fix, their parents, uncles and aunts, big brothers and sisters were ready to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the musical styling of the legend that is Mr. Lionel Richie.

The Lipitor game was strong as the Araneta Coliseum filled up quite nicely with the cool kids of the 70s and 80’s rocking their slacks and button downs and their wives in the latest Burberry and Rustan’s Resort line on point. Notable guests that evening were Bureau of Internal Revenue Secretary Kim Henares, Sec. Butch Abad of the Department of Budget and Management, Newscasters Korina Sanchez from ABS-CBN and GMA Network’s very own Mike Enriquez.

With no opening band, the concert starts promptly at 8pm. His band takes the stage while Apl D Ap makes sure the sound tech booth is under control.

Richie’s endeavor in to music started out at a very young age. As a student in Tuskegee, Richie formed a succession of Rhythm and Blues groups in the mid-1960s. In the late 60s he became a singer and saxophonist for the group, The Commodores. It was here that his career in music was launched. They signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1968 for one record and eventually signed to Motown Records initially as a support act to The Jackson 5. The Commodores then became established as a popular soul group. Their first several albums had a danceable, funky sound, as in such tracks as "Machine Gun" and "Brick House.”

These wonderful hits were played that magical Saturday evening. The crowd grooved and jived. People with canes were miraculously healed; the arthritis and gout were forgotten and for one night the audience were back in their prime; wrinkles vanished and hair went black again. Richie and his band were taken aback as well by the wonderful reception of the crowd. ‘You guys just don’t sing well, you dance well too! Wonderful, just wonderful!’ he remarks to the crowd witch much glee.

He then proceeds to more hits promising the crowd they’ll be having fun ‘All Night Long’ and indeed he delivers. Lionel played more of his biggest hits which he wrote a bit later in his career. These hits were more romantic, easy-listening ballads such as "Easy," "Three Times a Lady," "Still," and the tragic breakup ballad "Sail On." He catches the crowd for being guilty of at least once in their young adult life taking out a CD, an album, a cassette or worse an A-Track of his ballads to savour the pain and heartbreak they felt as teens. The crowd goes hysterical as obviously admitting he was a truly a part of their youth’s soundtrack.

It was towards the end that Lionel Richie played the songs that definitely endeared him to his Filipino fans. From the iconic ballad ‘Hello’ to the very disco-vibe track ‘All Night Long’, Lionel proved he still has got what it takes to put on a great show. He leaves the stage at this point but the crowd screams in refusal to let the night end. They wanted an encore. The 50 pluses turned into teens and Lionel hits the stage for one last song. He ends the night with a song very dear to his heart. A song he wrote with the late great Michael Jackson. Together, the crowd joins him as they sing in unison Heal The World.

The night was nothing short of amazing. The only thing lacking is a repeat. Everything from sound, visuals to lights were definitely all on point. Thanks to the wonderful people at Wilbros Live for making this wonderful show a possibility.

More photos from the show below:

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