LIONEL RICHIE and EARTH, WIND & FIRE

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Written by Debbie Irene Ide 

Photos by Joe Guzman

 

A Mesmerizing Night of Eternal Grooves with LIONEL RICHIE and EARTH, WIND & FIRE, ‘SING A SONG ALL NIGHT LONG TOUR’, Produced by LIVE NATION.

On September 1, 2023, the city of Dallas was blessed with an unforgettable evening as one of the bestselling bands of all time, EARTH, WIND & FIRE graced the stage at American Airlines Center along with legendary singer-songwriter and producer LIONEL RICHIE.
With anticipation buzzing in the air, fans from all walks of life gathered to witness a musical extravaganza that would leave an indelible mark on their souls.

I decided to wear a gold sequin top, but I was a little concerned I’d be overdressed. I was so very wrong.  It was a delight to see fans wearing not only sequins and rhinestones head to toe, but bell bottoms and groovy graphics too. I was happily reminded of the era in which these iconic musical acts hit the scene, with their monumental impact on our lives.

 

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As the lights dimmed and the stage came alive, EARTH, WIND & FIRE emerged wearing outfits that were all styled differently but featured the same shimmering patchwork patterned fabric. Radiating an effervescent energy that instantly ignited the crowd from the very first note of the opening song “Shining Star”, it was evident that this was not just a concert, but a celebration of timeless music, joy, and unity. The band effortlessly transported us through the decades, delving into their rich discography of jazz, funk, soul, disco, and R&B inspired pop hits.

The spirit of Maurice White was undeniably present as Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and the rest of the incredibly talented ensemble took the stage. “Serpentine Fire”, with vintage photos of the band on big screen, led us into a Bass Solo by Verdine White that segued right into “Sing a Song”, one of the hits that inspired the tours name. Verdine
Whites electrifying bass lines provided an irresistible foundation for the bands signature sound. Their infectious grooves and impeccable musicianship resonated through every corner of the venue, captivating the hearts of everyone in attendance. The unmistakable sound of the horns rang out in each song and the Latin/African percussion was a powerful force.

The psychedelic video imagery was high tech vivid and absolutely captivating. According to my boyfriend, who used to be a freelance recording engineer at EWFs Total Experience Studios in HOLLYWOOD back in the late 70s, it’s a far cry from the oil, water and food color creations that were projected onto screens during the shows that he had seen. The high energy BEATLES cover “Got to Get You Into my Life” slowed to send us into “Reasons” with Bailey’s unmistakable falsetto soaring through the air, sending shivers down our spines.

One of my favorite visuals of the night was a couple of fans in the very last row at the very tippy top of the stadium, the nosebleed seats as we all call them. They were wearing black, in front of the white walls and danced throughout the entire show. I know they could be seen by the artists throughout the night, and I felt certain it made their hearts smile, as it did mine.

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The stage design was a visual masterpiece, with thoughtfully placed video screens at angles that allowed the whole audience to enjoy the show, dazzling moving lights under the video screens and strategically placed throughout, as well as a runway that jetted out into the middle of the audience leading to another stage area at the end, in the middle of the entire arena. The runway and center stage were lined with more moving lights and color washed C02 jets. Mesmerizing color filled projections perfectly complemented the band’s vibrant performance with synchronized dance moves and genuine camaraderie amongst the band members that created an atmosphere of pure joy and positivity.

EARTH, WIND & FIRE’S setlist was a carefully curated journey through their iconic hits. Classics like “Boogie Wonderland”, “Lets Groove” and “September” had the crowd on their feet, dancing and singing along with unbridled enthusiasm. Each song was flawlessly executed, and the band’s ability to recreate the magic of their studio recordings while adding a fresh live energy was truly commendable. I found myself feeling extremely emotional and had to ask myself…Why?? Well, I too was feeling the rush of memories from my youth and remembering long lost friends that shared those moments. I felt extremely blessed to still be alive and to be experiencing this extraordinary, and for me, historical
moment.

EARTH, WIND & FIRE have once again proven why they are regarded as one of the greatest bands of all time. Having won 6 Grammys out of 17 nominations, 4 American Music Awards out of 12 nominations, been Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame, and Hollywood’s Rock Wall. They have earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, received an ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Heritage Award, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award selling over 90 million records worldwide.

 

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LIONEL RICHIE took the stage after a heartwarming video montage highlighting his career and achievements, creating an exciting journey of musical nostalgia. He began his set with the ever recognizable “Hello”, to welcome us. As the first notes resonated through the venue, the audience erupted into cheers, fully aware that they were about to embark on an unforgettable journey with one of music’s greatest icons. RICHIE was wearing all black with a white tuxedo styled jacket with tails, and a white military styled bullion braid horizontally covering the front chest. His overwhelming charm, velvety voice and magnetic presence hypnotized the ladies in the audience, offering a night of heartfelt memories. He joked with the gentleman in the audience, telling them that he knew they really didn’t want to be there. He stated that he was just warming the ladies up for them and that the guys would
score more points if they leaned over and whispered to their ladies’ how amazing RICHIE was.

RICHIE effortlessly navigated through his extensive repertoire of hits, his voice carried an emotional weight that touched the hearts of everyone in the room. It was a reminder of why he has earned a place among the music industry’s most revered artists. In 1994 RICHIE was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, recognizing his exceptional songwriting talents and contributions to the music industry. According to grammy.com RICHIE has been nominated for 32 Grammy awards and has received 4 Grammys. RICHIES’ first solo album sold over 4 million copies and his second sold over 20 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time. Throughout his career RICHIE has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. Quite impressive!  Accompanied by a talented band that perfectly complemented his every move, RICHIE’s stage presence was a testament to his years of experience. His charismatic smile, energy, and smooth moves resonated with the crowd, creating an atmosphere of excitement. It was impossible not to be swept away by the collective euphoria that filled the venue.

Throughout the concert, RICHIE showcased his versatility, effortlessly transitioning from soulful ballads like “Easy”, “Truly”, and “Stuck on You” to upbeat tunes like “Sail On”, “You Are”, and “Dancing on the Ceiling”. Each song was meticulously performed, captivating the audience, and prompting them to sing along with every word. The connection between Richie and his fans was palpable, creating a shared experience that transcended the boundaries of time and age. RICHIE Treated us to a set within a set, by offering up hits from the COMMODORES’ starting with “Three Times a Lady” which was COMMODORES’ first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 topping the chart for two weeks in 1978 and also reaching No. 1 on the soul chart for two weeks. It was the only Motown song to reach the top ten on the US billboard hot 100 that year.  The high energy “Lady (You Bring Me Up)” moved us into the sultry “Just to Be Close to You”.

RICHIE teased us with a possible guest appearance by Diana Ross before the classic song “Endless Love”.  He joked with us that he has asked her for 37 years to join him on stage for that song, only to have her politely decline, so what made us think she was going to come out now? “Endless Love” remains among the top 20 bestselling singles of all time. He encouraged us to sing Dianas part and we were happy to oblige.  A total climax to the show was the fan favorite “Brick House” that had “Fire” mashed up in the middle of it. The video visuals were outstanding, and flamethrowers ignited the stage during the word FIRE while
the illuminated CO2 jets shot up into the air all along the center stage extension. It was one of the best moments of the entire show! We were all dancing and singing every word. It was a blast! The soulful heart stopping ballad “Still” which was COMMODORES last No. 1 hit before LIONEL RICHIE embarked on his solo career, followed afterward.

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He closed the set with the iconic hit, “We Are the World,” inviting the audience to join him in a heartfelt tribute to the power of unity and compassion. The audience was swept away by the songs timeless message of love, unity, and hope creating a powerful and intimate connection between the RICHIE and his adoring fans. It was a poignant moment as video images featuring people of different nationalities and cultures hugging each other and smiling, radiated joy and happiness to every heart in American Airlines Center that evening.

A short break had the entire arena screaming for an encore and LIONEL RICHIE did not disappoint. He ended the night with “All Night Long”, the other unmistakable hit that was also the namesake for the tour. He came out in a red rhinestone jacket with the words “All Night Long” on the back in white rhinestones. His energy level, matched by the audience, was over the top.

Leaving the venue that night, I was shocked as I realized that LIONEL RICHIE and EARTH, WIND & FIRE was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. Their ability to transport us to moments of love, joy, and memorable times in our life was undeniable. It was the most engaging, creative, and vivid multimedia lighting and video show ever. Seriously, it was quite spectacular, extravagant, and extremely sensory without overshadowing the repertoire of amazing songwriting.

It was a night filled with timeless classics, heartfelt performances, and an overwhelming sense of togetherness. It was an awe-inspiring testament to the power of music that transcends time, brings people together and ignites our soul.  Dallas was fortunate to witness the magic that only artists of that caliber can conjure, and it was most certainly an unforgettable evening for everyone, especially me. This concert was nothing short of spectacular, leaving me so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to bask in the timeless brilliance of EARTH, WIND & FIRE and LIONEL RICHIE.

Earth Wind & Fire

 

Lionel Richie