What can I say about Lionel Richie? Icon, Legend and Performer extraodinaire. There are more adjectives to describe this truly gifted musician who performed at the KLCC Plenary Hall in conjunction with the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix Gala 2010, which I had the pleasure to attend.
Growing up, I listened to most of his songs (solo and his Commodores days) and since all his songs are radio friendly, one can never say not at the very least, familiar with one of his numerous singles. I still remember his multi platinum "Hello" single being the staple request of a radio station every night.
Seated amongst everyone and anyone at the same level (His Royal Highness Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah, our Prime Minister and First Lady, Deputy Prime Minister and spouse and the rest of the ministry and scores of celebrities including Wyclef Jean, F1 drivers, dignitaries etc), I felt honoured to be part of a great crowd. However, the feeling dissipated as quickly as the latte I downed before the concert couple of hours earlier. It was noted that the concert was to commence at 8.30pm (check the concert ticket), and it did not start till 10pm. I must point out here again (because this is NOT the first time it happens at a concert), while the rest of us "normal" folks are always punctual, I still do not fathom why VIPs cannot do the same. Are their clock time sluggishly slower than ours or are we "normal" folks too anxious and punctuality means NOTHING to them? Do VIPs and us have a serious time dimension difference? I am still as baffled as most Malaysians who attend the concert are. Probably they will do an episode in Fringe on this matter.
Anyway, once Lionel started, all the frustrations of VIPs non-punctuality flew out the window. He came on with the title track of his 2004 album "Just For You" and sang his heart out for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Cramming about 20 songs into his repertoire, he missed out "Say You Say Me" by the way, he still commands the stage with his generous banter and rich vocals. He still has his distinct voice and can hold notes that make the current batch of so-called singers" look like kindergarten kids trying to reach for the 2nd octave. His vocals are as crisp and close to the studio versions of the songs that made him a multi millionaire and multi-Grammy awards winner. He does not sing off key too! I have to confess some of his songs are even better "live". And he is 61 years old. New singers should learn a thing or two (that's an understatement) from this veteran icon.
The stage was simple, set with the band (and the keyboardist as the backup vocalist) and a black Roland piano.
He sweat buckets and still sang his heart out throughout the duration of the concert. He gave us his hits from "Running With The Night", "Easy", "Truly", "Dancin' On The Ceiling", "Penny Lover", "Stuck On You", "Three Times A Lady", "Love Will Conquer All" etc.
In between sets, he interacted with the audience (well, mostly made clean and honest fun of The King and our First Lady...I guess they have a close relationship and are sporting). His humour worked well with the audience. There was an instance whereby he asked all the ladies in the audience to be his Diana Ross's and sing her part in "Endless Love" with his cue. It went down pretty well. Interaction wise, I would give him a 10. He made us feel part of his sets. Its honest interaction unlike some singers who feel forced and a chore to talk to the audience.
An amazing point to note is, he never...yes, NEVER left the stage until the encore segment. He soldiered on with his hits like an F1 driver...alternating fast and slow numbers. He only left the stage for less than 5 minutes before returning for an encore singing two of his biggest hits, "Hello" and ending a truly magnificient night with an extended version of "All Night Long". At the end of the song he had to include a banter or two asking the audience to dance like Julio Iglesias (who performed at the same venue the night before) and Beyonce.
Lionel may have passed his prime but he still hold one mean concert most singers half his age are unable to.
My attendance was courtesy of tickets from Lite Fm worth RM688.
Also a special shout out to "Tan Sri" Mohd Yaziz (a running friend whom I bumped into). Hope you enjoyed the concert as much as I did.