Music | Story by Sean DeFrank

Lionel Richie Bridges the Generation Gap

Life Is Beautiful, Downtown Stage, Oct. 25

Photo by Wayne Posner

Photo by Wayne Posner

When it was announced that the global superstar would be playing Life Is Beautiful, the pairing seemed one swimming in irony: the 65-year-old R&B hitmaker entertaining a crowd filled with millennials. But there was nothing but unabashed admiration on both sides as Richie sorted through a treasure chest of ’70s and ’80s radio classics.

After teasing the audience that Diana Ross would be joining him, he led them through her parts on “Endless Love.” Richie let his band stretch out so the crowd could get down on “Running With the Night” and “Dancing on the Ceiling,” and even kept a batch of ballads—“Still,” “Oh No,” “Stuck on You”—lively, joking how his songs were the place you turned after a bad breakup: “Who you gonna call? Lionel Richie!”

Sure, the ballad “Hello” had a touch of irony, but even that seemed more a mutual wink-and-a-nod between performer and audience. When Richie closed with pop touchstones “All Night Long (All Night)” and “We Are the World,” there was no denying the joy they brought, no matter your age. ★★★★✩

Set list

All Around the World
Penny Lover
Easy/My Love
Ballerina Girl
You Are
Endless Love
Running With the Night
Oh No
Stuck On You
Dancing on the Ceiling
Sail On
Fancy Dancer
Sweet Love
Lady (You Bring Me Up)
Say You, Say Me
Brick House/Fire
All Night Long (All Night)
We Are the World