| June 23, 2011 | 11:19am
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Wednesday, June 22
Better than: Challah bread French toast.
A steamy romance began last night at the Hard Rock Casino. The two parties involved were a jazzed up audience and former Commodore and big-time '80s pop star Lionel Richie.
Richie managed to get about 500 people to fall in love with him in seconds, and not only because he seemed to dedicate "Stuck on You" to each and every one of them.
At the beginning of the show, it appeared, at first, like Richie had changed his musical image. C & C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now" was pumping from the speakers, mashed up with "Hello." The fear that this would be a two hour Girl Talk-like show created by old people soon subsided, once the band launched into Richie's least recognizable song of the evening, "All Around the World."
Immediately after the song, Richie started clapping and engaging with the crowd. Last time he was here, he said, "the audience had a show for me." Guess a lady came onstage during that performance. In response to the story, a woman's voice shouted out from the masses, "Baby, I have a show for you!" And the courting commenced.
He got us all worked up playing "Easy" on the piano, even giving it a little reggae flavor in the end there. The band went into "Ballerina Girl." He wrote the song for his daughter Nicole, Paris Hilton's old pal.
Around that time, a guy walked directly up to the stage, Blackberry in hand, to take a picture. Richie didn't miss a note, he modeled for the camera phone, hand on hip. The room swooned.
He even let us sing the "Say Me" in "Say You, Say Me." It was adorable!
About love songs he announced, "they get you engaged, married, or in a lot of trouble." What a tease. Continually, the audience yelled about their love for him, and he told them right back, "I love you."
During "Dancing on the Ceiling," the band played a few measures from Van Halen's "Jump," and Richie said, "I want everyone to scream! I want everyone to jump!" Then, when the good-but-not-Eddie-Van-Halen guitarist was playing his instrument behind his head, a man in the front row jumped up so much that he was given a high five from Richie. Aw.
"Not only do all of you sing, but you perform!" After being surprised that everyone, even the unlikely fans knew all his old songs, he launched into a Commodores medley.
During the "All Night Long" encore, Richie made a salsa move and said, "Dance like Julio!" The first Julio Iglesias reference many of us had heard in years. He wiggled his butt a bit, flirtatiously, when singing, "Dance like Shakira." It was charming.
Richie looks good. The big screen televisions showed several bracelets on each wrist, he was sporting all black, you know, stylish, sleek. His voice sounded good, too, though it got a little hoarse after an hour and a half of singing, which makes sense. It's hard work.
Before the encore, he announced that, "sometimes home comes home to you." Apparently, old friend and South Florida singer KC from KC and the Sunshine Band had visited him backstage earlier. Richie was really moved. It choked us up a bit, too, to think of these aging talents who gave us music we've incorporated into our lives.
There's nothing like hearing songs live that will hopefully always get radio play. Perfect pop music needn't die, it just needs to gets a Shakira reference plugged into it.
Personal Bias: I didn't know I knew so many Lionel Richie songs.
Random Observation: It's possible the sax/harmonica/keyboard player was possibly also a professional clapper.
The Crowd: All colors, many ages, mostly couples.
Overheard: Not overheard, but we made an Eddie Van Halen joke randomly about the guitarist before "Jump" started playing. Psychic power, as Deee-lite would say.
All Around the World
Running with the Night
Say You, Say Me
Stuck On You
Dancing on the Ceiling
Three Times a Lady
Lady (You Bring Me Up)
Just to Be Close to You
All Night Long
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