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Concert Reviews:
Lionel Richie turns 65 at DTE with help from Kid Rock

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- If those of legal drinking age took a shot Friday night every time Lionel Richie mentioned it was his birthday during his concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, suffice to say there probably isn't an instrument that could have measured the blood alcohol content.

But don't let it be said that Richie didn't turn 65 in style -- with Kid Rock in person and a bunch of his other friends via video.

The veteran pop icon started letting fans know what day it was from the start of his nearly two-hour All The Hits All Night Long Tour show, which stretched a good 20 minutes (at $1,000 per minute) past DTE's 11 p.m. curfew. But the real celebration took place as he finished the main portion of his set with an exuberant "All Night Long."

Crew and band members held Richie on stage rather than letting him leave for the encore break, and a series of tribute videos began with Barbra Streisand, who thanked Richie for being part of a duets album she's currently recording, and continued with wishes from Piers Morgan, Tim McGraw, Lenny Kravitz, Luke Bryan, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony and Richie's daughters Nicole and Sofia. Quincy Jones and Sidney Portier offered particularly eloquent messages, while Jimmy Buffett and the duo of actors Jackie Chan and John Cusack sang "Happy Birthday" to Richie during their respective videos.

Rock than escorted a large sheet cake on stage, singing Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" single from 1981. A clearly surprised Richie gushed, "I love this! I cannot believe this. This is beyond!" Rock chided Richie for not inviting him to the show, and Richie explained that he just figured the Clarkston-based rocker was on the road as well. The two wound up telling a story about a dinner they shared at Rock's house in Malibu, where they one-upped each other with awards they'd recently received, with Rock showing off his from the NAACP to trump Richie's arts award from France.

It was a big ending -- followed by the encore version of "We Are the World" -- but it had already been quite a party. Richie's 24-song show lived up to the tour name, with a generous selection of the hits that made him famous, both with the Commodores ("Easy," "Three Times a Lady," "Sail On," a medley of "Fancy Dancer," "Sweet Love" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)" and another medley of "Brick House" and the Ohio Players' "Fire") and on his own -- the latter litany including "Penny Lover," "You Are," "Truly," "Running With the Night," "Dancing on the Ceiling," "Endless Love," "Say You, Say Me" and "Hello." It was a jukebox kind of night, with the DTE crowd singing almost every word along with Richie -- and holding up its end on the frequent occasions when he'd lay back to let the fans take over.

Richie was in spirited and often self-deprecating good humor throughout the night, telling the stories behind some of the songs and pulling together a "journey" through "the good, the bad and the just plain ugly" of romance with a a trio of the Commodores' "Still" and "Oh No" and his "Stuck on You." He was clearly having as much fun as anyone in the seats, and he performed with a robust energy that belied his age.

Cee-Lo Green opened the night with his own good-humored 50-minute set, although he seemed a bit more preoccupied than necessary about whether the DTE crowd actually knew who he was -- or certainly his musical history outside of being a judge on NBC's "The Voice." And though his own voice was hit-and-miss, Green and his seven-piece band gave fans a broad sampling of both his own music -- including "Bright Lights, Bigger City," "F*** You" and the Gnarls Barkley smash "Crazy" -- as well as nodding to sources such as Sister Sledge ("We Are Family"), Rod Stewart ("Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"), Pussycat Dolls ("Don't Cha"), Violent Femmes ("Gone Baby Gone") and Minnie Ripperton ("Lovin' You").

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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