Lionel Richie is thrilled to be back on the road and playing live concerts, he told the packed Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the first night of his U.S. concert tour on August 4, 2023. The “American Idol” judge has teamed up with classic R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire for a 20-city co-headlining tour filled with laser lights, countless hits and a powerful message about unity.
According to the Star Tribune, an audience of 13,000 packed the venue to see the two iconic acts on their first night together. The two acts didn’t collaborate onstage, however. After Earth, Wind & Fire’s 12-man ensemble performed an 80-minute set of hits from the 70s and 80s, Richie appeared with much fanfare — rising up from beneath the stage after an intro video played chronicling his many career accomplishments, including his 2022 induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
“Finally, after 200 years of trying to put this show together,” Richie joked, “we’ve got Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire! I mean, you all have no idea what we’ve been through. Every time we think we’re gonna do a show, pandemic. Then we said, ‘Alright, we’ll do it again.’ Somebody got sick, we can’t do it. Somebody broke their leg, we can’t do it. Well tonight, we can do it!”
After opening with his classic hit “Hello,” Richie’s 95-minute concert was filled with energy, jokes and three wardrobe changes, as well as a passionate speech about what he’s learned about humanity.
Lionel Richie Makes Passionate Plea For Unity During Concert
Other than Richie frequently fiddling with his inner ear piece, signaling that he may have been struggling to hear himself or his band, his show was a well-oiled machine, timed perfectly with laser lights, artistic background videos, banter with the audience and choreographed moves with his bandmates — all elements he’s fine-tuned while on tour in Europe in June and July, and during his residency in Las Vegas.
Though he hasn’t toured the U.S. in five years, Richie has performed 36 sold-out shows in Las Vegas since 2019, according to Red Light Management, with six more concerts scheduled at the Wynn Las Vegas in October.
Richie covered all of his biggest hits, from “Hello” to “All Night Long,” and took some time to address the crowd before singing “We Are The World,” the massive 1985 hit he co-wrote with his “good friend” Michael Jackson, raising $60 million for USA for Africa.
After telling the crowd he’d missed these “face-to-face gatherings” and thanking them for letting his music, and the music of the Commodores — his original funk and soul group in the 70s — and Earth, Wind & Fire be part of their lives for so long, Richie spoke from the heart with a plea for unity — a topic he’s particularly passionate about.
Richie said, “I happened to, in those five years of being away, I had the chance to study humanity. I had the chance to study people and how they treated each other.”
“These songs tonight that you’re celebrating tap on the heart of what mankind is all about,” he continued. “Just a few words: mother, father, sister, brother, family, community, weddings, celebration of life. Tragedy, unbelievable tragedy. Suffering. Death. If I say all those words, I’m giving you the answer to the human experience.”
“Is there anyone in here tonight experiencing everything else? Did I leave something out?” Richie asked, growing more passionate as he spoke, with the crowd cheering. “The answer is there is nothing else. We didn’t come here as a tribe. We didn’t come here as a political party. We didn’t come here as a color. We came here as a human race.”
“I keep hearing over and over again, ‘What about those people?’ We are those people!”
Richie then asked the audience to sing along with him as he launched into “We Are The World.”
Lionel Richie Says He’s a ‘Different Person’ on the Road
At 74, Richie’s career is red hot and he shows no signs of slowing down. He just re-signed with ABC for his sixth season as a judge on “American Idol” alongside Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. They’ll begin filming auditions this fall for season 22, which will premiere in early 2024.
In July, Richie launched his second fragrance, “Easy Like Sunday Morning” — a follow-up to his best-selling 2019 fragrance “Hello,” which earned a nomination in the Fragrance of the Year: Popular category from the Fragrance Foundation.
Richie recently told Marie Claire magazine that he typically wakes up at 11 a.m., but sleeps even longer when he’s on tour, saying that he’s a “different person” when he’s doing a concert tour.
“If I’m on the road, I stay up late and sleep basically all day, so I’m ready for the show at night,” he said.
As far as his diet goes, he shared, “I typically start my day with warm lemon water to flush my system. I always think of the stomach as being a refrigerator with the door open. So you want to make sure that you clean the palate before you start the next day.”
“When I’m on the road, steak and eggs are it,” he continued, “or some kind of protein—chicken, fish, eggs, that kind of thing. I’ll eat oatmeal to start, and then veggies. And then just before the show, or let’s say an hour or two before the show, then I go to carbs.”
Richie added, “When I’m on the road, carbs are my friend. When I’m off the road, carbs are not my friend, because it’s all sugar. So I have to balance out the process of protein and carbs. When I need the fuel, I get the fuel. I’m one person on the road and another person off the road.”