Lionel Richie talks shop about his Planet Hollywood show
The massive Zappos Theater on the Las Vegas Strip is home to musical residencies from some of pop music’s biggest stars (Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez and Backstreet Boys, to name a few), but there’s only one true legend in this room.
Lionel Richie is back at the Planet Hollywood venue for seven shows this month (Aug. 15, 17-18, 21, 24-25 & 28). His crowd-pleasing production All The Hits has been electrifying Vegas audiences for more than two years, and while it’s a relatively stripped-down experience compared to the other spectaculars presented in this theater, Richie has everything he needs.
“I’m in that blessed category because I don’t need the dancers and all the stuff in-between, I just need the next song,” said the 69-year-old singer and songwriter. “My biggest problem is it’s guaranteed someone is going to leave saying, ‘I can’t believe they didn’t play (something).’ There was a point in my life when all we had to do was worry if we had enough music to play one hour of our songs only. If you’ve got that, you’ve got yourself an opportunity to have a career.”
And what a career it’s been for Richie, who broke out in the late ’60s with funk-soul outfit the Commodores and went solo in 1982. His sophomore solo album Can’t Slow Down, released the following year, broke records and dominated charts and radio play for years with memorable tunes like “All Night Long,” “Stuck On You” and “Hello.”
Incredibly, there were only eight tracks on that album. “When I turned the album in, the record company said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Here’s the joke: Seven of the eight were hits,” Richie said. “But the concept back then was that there was a record store. You want to come out with your album at the same time as Michael (Jackson) and Prince and (Bruce) Springsteen and Madonna, because when you walk to the front of the store, there was always the latest releases, so you go to pick up Thriller and there’s Can’t Slow Down. You’re not going to walk out with just one.”
Richie packs many of his solo hits into his Zappos Theater show but digs deeper for earlier tracks as well, turning the venue into a throwback dance party and cutting back and forth between romantic ballads. It’s a concert only one legend could provide, full of musical touch points that resonate with fans of all ages. “That’s what it’s about. You don’t go to see (Bob) Dylan with dancers; he’s going to tell you a story. You’re looking for the character and the flavor,” he said. “Everything doesn’t have to be boom-bam-boom.”
Richie recently announced the final dates for his Vegas show, nine performances set for Oct. 3-20. This is one Strip resident you can’t afford to miss.