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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

FOR THE RECORD: LIONEL RICHIE Featuring CORINNE BAILEY-RAE @ Manchester Arena (28/6/16)


All Tour Long.

Motown took to the city of Northern Soul last night as one of the last Berry Gordy greats standing had us strutting on the rooftops for the entirety of the evening. From Detroit to Manchester, Commodore Lionel Richie gave a commanding performance in the name of fun and entertainment which you just have to see for yourself, like the Wonder of Stevie or the Boss Springsteen shows off E Street. Bruce was here in the rain soaked Etihad Stadium not a month back, but now moving indoors in this Great British Summer to the former M.E.N. world beating stadium, the soul superstar who last year brought the sun to Glastonbury showed he was still the M.A.N. Lionel may be pushing 70 (he's 67 for the record...those Commodore 64 jokes have gotten real old), but the icon that started his legacy in the seventies is an undeniable legend. And that one of a kind mark was still indelible all these years later in the first of a pair of back-to-back sellouts in a town that doesn't care where it's Motown comes long as it has soul.

And in stellar support, British best soul singer Corinne Bailey-Rae had plenty of that. It may have been a long time since Rae became a household name as she 'Put The Records' on for her self titled debut and the pure potential of the likes of Lianne La Havas may be taking her Brit soul queen crown, but Corinne showed that her classic record could still put the crowd on and off the rude, distracting glow of their phones. The inspiration is still there to see and aswell as moving through timeless signatures like 'Like A Star' and the city to city single 'Paris Nights/New York Mornings' off her brave and beautiful sophomore album 'The Sea', Corinne hit us with a ray of colourful Coldplay light from her stunning new set 'The Heart Speaks In Whispers'. And boy did we hear it. In all it's subtle beauty. From 'The Skies Will Break' all the way to 'Been To The Moon'. All the standards she showed in her set last night proved that even a chorus of her new, instantly catchy records felt so fondly familiar it's like they've been around for years with the rest of her best. And without the bells and whistles of all the pyrotechnics, Corinne Bailey-Rae played a powerful performance of her new offbeat but outstanding classic that it was like the best that British soul/music has never left. And the crowd didn't want her to either.

But this night was always all about Lionel and all about the hits...Hello (only time I promise?!) And as soon as Richie and his big band opened with the electric 'Running With The Night' it was clear to hear soul could still rock a stadium. As Lionel rolled out the best of the best like a lino, from 'Dancing On A Ceiling' to 'My Destiny', just like a late, great Prince gig (I hope you had the chance to catch him here two years back for his 'Hit N Run') you'd be forgiven if you almost forgot how many hits this Motown King actually has. But your nostalgia would smile and give one of those "this is my jam" 'ahhs' as the first notes of each classic would come into play like your favourite song on the radio. Especially when he played the piano on some 'Easy' Commodore classics like 'Sail On' and 'Endless Love' and compared it to the good ole nostalgia of taking heartbroken solace in your Lionel C.D./cassette/A-Track. Once, twice, three times a legend, Lionel had everyone out their seat and on their feet. Say you, say me, say it together. Even someone that was 90. Someone that danced more than anybody...and the ceiling. And some toddler with a cute face that said "show me something Lionel"! And boy did he...performing 'The Wheels On The Bus' for the first time in his live career that goes round and round the world. Add THAT to the greatest hits. And of course what evening would be complete without that timless greeting and of course everything 'All Night Long'? Lionel Richie knew how to keep the crowd and the joke going so much so they never wanted to say goodbye to what they've been looking forward all year for. Last night Lionel rebuilt the Manchester Arena...and then tore that brick house down! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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