No one is topping Lionel Richie at Red Rocks
Lionel Richie is real, there's no question. His star was born decades ago and solidified through so many hits that I had even forgotten some of them were his (and the Commodores', of course.) It was refreshing to see someone so real perform; the last time I was at Red Rocks, it was for Lana Del Rey. While there is no comparison to the two performers, really, I felt at ease watching Richie; I wasn't trying to figure out if he was singing to backing tracks. I wasn't waiting for him to speak, to gauge his humanness by his interaction with the crowd. I wasn't worrying that I might be missing some clue the Internet had already pointed out that proved he wasn't a phenomenal singer. Because Lionel Richie is fucking incredible.
It was clear that Richie and his team understand the now-customary rules of a big show: the audience was bombarded with clip-arty graphics and photo montages that ran across giant LED screens, and there were plenty of strobes. But it seemed so pointless: The audience was just staring at Richie the whole time. He's one of those ageless humans, someone I had to google to figure out how old he was because he looked and sounded so good.
Richie bounced out on stage just before 9 p.m., looking dapper in all black -- he would change quickly several times throughout the night, switching from one tailored suit jacket to the next. But even his wardrobe transformations were meant to be fast and minor; it was as if he wanted to spend every moment he could with his crowd. He cracked the set open with "All Around the World," and the Richie dance party took off.
The singer took many moments between songs to pause and stand in what felt like genuine awe of the size of the venue. As he stared up into the night, Richie explained that he wasn't used to looking up so high at all of the faces watching him. He played another solo hit, "Penny Lover," and then proclaimed, "Tonight we are going to cover everything, all songs" and started in on "Easy," which would be one of many Commodores tracks with which he would regale his attentive audience.