The night Lionel swallowed the Big Dome (well, almost!)

Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In an exclusive interview with The STAR two weeks before he flew in for a concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Saturday night, Grammy multi-awarded Lionel Richie said, “If you say Lionel Richie and no talking, that cannot be. I’m the ‘talkingest’ guy on the planet; I’m the most talkative singer on Earth.”

For a while there, when he opened his big mouth after singing an excerpt from Hello, the song he said he wanted to be remembered for, he sounded as if he was swallowing the Big Dome in one gulp (burp, burp, burp!!!). Yes, his voice was so powerful, so overwhelming and so all-encompassing that it kept the audience mesmerized from start to finish, so electrifying that you felt he was shaking the venue with Intensity 10.

It helped that, unlike most veterans, Lionel sang his enduring hits as he did on disc, as in plakang-plaka, not changing neither a word nor a beat, and how the audience loved it, singing or humming along with him on Still; Sail On; Stuck On You; Truly; Ballerina Girl; Say You, Say Me; and many more, each of them eliciting thunderous applause.

He’s turning 65 on June 20 but you wondered where he was getting the energy that sustained him non-stop for two hours, singing and dancing and marching back and forth on stage, ruling it as if it’s his exclusive kingdom, changing his sweat-soaked suit only once and wiping beads of crystalline perspiration from his face.

“Are you ready?” he asked the audience who responded with a resounding “Yes!” and then urged (nay, “ordered”!) them to be on their feet (“Nobody should remain seated tonight!”) and swing and sway to his baton, as he launched into dance tunes, most of which he recorded when he was with The Commodores who, he recalled, had their first stint abroad at the Big Dome.

How delightful it was watching him not just performing but enjoying what he was doing as much as the audience did. A total entertainer, Lionel didn’t just sing, he told stories as a magical raconteur would (explaining the background of each song), cracked jokes and flirted around.

Endless Love is a duet with Diana Ross but since Diana couldn’t be with him, Lionel requested the audience to sing it with him and the audience did with gusto, with pleasure.

“What a show, what a show, what a show!!!” he exclaimed after singing all of Hello, the song which he said touches people of all ages, regardless of race or religion, that served as his finale number. But the audience couldn’t have enough of him, so they asked for more, more, more! Luckily, Lionel obliged with We Are The World which he recorded with Michael Jackson for, if memory serves, the starving people of Africa.

You can hardly wait to say “Hello” again to Lionel Richie.











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