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| 8 March 2014 | Reply

Sandalford Winery, The Swan Valley, Perth, Western Australia
Sunday 2 March 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Maree King

Lionel Ritchie LIVE Perth 02 Mar 2014 by Maree King  (5)

Farnsey’s still The Voice, proven from the word go with the wonderful Age Of Reason. Relaxed and joking with the crowd about everything from his need for an autocue (sing and i, to the considerably relaxed and un-rock n’ roll vibe of the event, it’s obvious he’s enjoying himself immensely out front of his ten piece band of crack session musos.

Now in his mid Sixties, Farnham’s grown up in pop and rock n’ roll, and 2014 finds him abundantly comfortable in his own skin personally and musically. He knows what his fans want, and he gives it to ‘em straight – Reasons, Every Time You Cry, a shuffling Chain Reaction, Man Of The Hour – all led by his monstrously powerful voice, still as rich and broad as it was in his Eighties heyday.

He does his best – successfully – to create an intimate environment, raising the house lights, reducing his spotlight so he doesn’t feel so “perved at” – he was always a man of the people, never precious or diva-like.

The hits kept on coming – A Touch Of Paradise, the song he wrote while “feeling frustrated with” LRB – Playing To Win, Take The Pressure Down (which saw the cameras focus on a couple of cougars forcing young ushers to dance to it’s addictive synth line), Freedom and a simply magnificent You’re The Voice. They loved it.

Then a curve ball – little Johnny Farnham covering AC/DC’s Long Way To The Top for his encore!?! Who’da thunked it! It’s a nice touch to finish off a headliner-worthy performance from the man who has retired more times than we’ve had hot dinners, but thankfully keeps on coming back and, in this case, leaves the crowd wanting more.
Lionel Richie, also 64, took to the stage with a tease of his mega-hit Hello, most recently seen in Australia in the Tap King beer commercials. Tap King are sponsoring this tour, but very subtly and he didn’t crassly succumb to playing up to that, which was nice.

“By the end [of the show],” he states early on, “you’re gonna remember where you were, who you were with, and who you were doin’ [when you heard these songs]” – and launches into a fantastic collection of hits from his solo career and his time with The Commodores.

Penny Lover led Richie to sit at a grand piano for The Commodores hit Easy (once covered by Faith No More), Ballerina Girl, Truly, Lady (You Bring me Up) and many more had the majority of the crowd on their feet, and Richie too was amiable and chatty, telling them “there’s two groups of people here tonight – those that were there, and those whose mamas played these songs to you”, which neatly sums up the broad range of age groups in the audience.

Mostly middle aged and wearing smart slacks, there were still many twenty-somethings and whether they were rockers or popsters, the seasoned veteran had plenty to keep everyone satisfied.

Three Times A Lady, Sail On and the disco hit Fancy Dancer lead into his Diana Ross duet Endless Love and Say You, Say Me – and it strikes us. With his enormous hits that speak to every man and woman, Richie may just be the disco Bruce Springsteen. (Yeah, it’s a little bit of a reach but think about it and you might just agree!)

And as the hits cascaded one after another, rarely played in full in an attempt to squeeze more and more into the cram-packed set, people actually start to leave – well, it is a public holiday long weekend and he’s already running overtime, and no-one’s bothered to put any late public transport options on… (you’d have thought either the State Government or the concert organisers might have considered this to avoid ten thousand stranded punters?!?)

The timeless classics Dancing On The Ceiling and All Night Long ensure there’s not a bum left on a seat anywhere in the place, and a surprise encore of We Are The World finished on a high note.

Richie – and Farnham – are pop singers, nothing more and nothing less, but they come from an age when pop meant more than the vacuous dross the radio regurgitates nowadays. These are songs which put melody first, whose lyrics reach out and touch people and mean something. It sure ain’t rock n’ roll, but damn it was good.



Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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