Lionel Richie – The 1st Central County Ground, Hove – 23rd June 2018

Photo by Dan Whitehouse

A man that needs no introduction, Hove was lucky enough to be in the presence of the legendary Lionel Richie on Saturday evening, with support from Westlife frontman Shane Filan. While the sun couldn’t decide if it wanted to stay out, the conditions ended up perfect for the occasion, as the rain held off and there was a warmth in the air with a comforting breeze. As fans loaded into the stunning arena, the venue had a festival feel to it, mostly due to the food and drinks stalls scattered around, along with the impressively sized stage.

Hailing from a boy band who have cemented themselves in pop history, Shane Filan wowed the crowd with a selection of hits, with one highlight being a cover of Daughtry track ‘What About Now’. Rocking a smart blazer and shirt, Filan looked in his element on stage and successfully managed to bring his legacy to life in a set that would’ve been worthy of a headline show. The arena was already packed out when Filan took to the stage and the atmosphere was blissful throughout.

Already on a high from the first set, fans outside the arena went wild as they caught a glimpse of Richie preparing himself for the show. It was clear that Richie is a performer whose target audience defies generations, as there were a good mixture of younger and older fans in attendance. When it was time for him to take to the stage, the crowd gazed intently and there was a real feeling of being in the presence of greatness as he appeared, dressed in a sequin jacket and with the stance of a graceful king.

Opening with ‘Easy’, Richie’s vocals were tremendous and at the age of 69, his showmanship was astonishing, something only a performer with such a background in the industry could pull off. The setlist was what any fan could’ve hoped for, featuring favourites from his solo work along with his previous material with The Commodores. Along with performing hit after hit, Richie took time in between tracks to address and joke with the crowd. Shortly after taking to the stage, he joked about his confusion as to whether they were in Hove or Brighton, which promoted an uproar of laughter.

During his performance of ‘Stuck On You’, a fan took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend. After congratulating the couple, Richie joked that it was rare he was upstaged during a show prompting further laughter from the crowd. Towards the end of the set, Richie performed iconic hit ‘We Are The World’, which he co-wrote for Michael Jackson, concluding with ‘All Night Long’.

For a tour titled ‘All The Hits’, Richie sure didn’t disappoint. A show bigger than anyone could’ve anticipated, we can only hope that he continues sharing his music with the world for years to come. There’s very few around like Lionel Richie and his entire stage persona was breathtaking to witness. His performance was mind blowing to say the least, but the actual engagement and interaction he offers his fans is what takes it from a great performance to a brilliant show. As a venue, Hove Cricket Ground was the perfect spot for a legend such as Richie to perform and I can’t imagine a show this big feeling better suited.

Dan Whitehouse