He's launching his "All the Hits All Night Long" tour Wednesday night, so Lionel Richie spent the night before honing his moves - with an exclusive crowd of VIPs at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino watching.
"It's the first show before the first show," he told about 700 guests at Hard Rock Live, where his stage for Wednesday night's show was already set up, including the video background. Decorative white curtains surrounded the floor, making for a more intimate feel for this tune-up.
This is Richie's first North American tour in more than a decade and runs pretty quickly, wrapping up in Los Angeles on Oct. 18. Other stops include the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the United Center in Chicago, and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. (His 2012 album, Tuskegee, named for the Alabama city where he grew up, features duets of his hits with Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Shania Twain, Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, and Jimmy Buffett.)
The 64-year-old Richie looked great, with black leather pants, a tight black collarless shirt and what amounted to four jacket changes during his two-hour show. He played about 30 songs, including everything from his time with the Commodores, the group he started with in 1968 before going solo in 1982. So Tuesday's list included "Say You, Say Me," "All Night Long," "Penny Lover," "Sail On," and about a dozen songs that some couple somewhere likely used as a wedding song in the past four decades. It was probably more than 20 songs total -- basically, if you've heard of it, he played it -- and Richie genuinely appeared to enjoy being on stage singing.
(At this point, I'm kind of at a journalistic crossroads. I could give you the blow-by-blow of what all he played, and what twists and surprises to expect, or I could avoid all that, and let those who bought tickets for Wednesday be surprised. I am choosing the latter, and about a dozen pages of notes shall go for naught. Also, we're going with a stock photo: Rules of Tuesday night barred photos. But here's one he Insta-grammed: http://instagram.com/p/eYl1SNlf6x/#)
The Hard Rock Live show Wednesday night is almost sold out. Check for tickets ($84-$159) at MyHRL.com.