Lionel Richie Concert Review, Austin, TX 3/14/2012, SxSW
Another concert review from the “Not So Metal Files”. My musical tastes are pretty diverse and there’s no doubting that my favorite genre of music is metal. It’s been in my life since the mid-70s and I live for it. But through the years there are other genres and artists that have been on my radar. One of them is Lionel Richie.
Like most, my introduction to his music was via The Commodores in the 70s. While I’ll never be accused of being a fan of funk, I am a fan of a good ballad and The Commodores cornered that market in those days with songs like Easy, Three Times A Lady, Sail On and Still. Lionel decided to go solo and continued the ballads in the 80s with great songs like Truly (my fave of his), Lady (used by Kenny Rogers), Endless Love, Stuck On You, Hello and a slew of others.
A little additional background into my love for Lionel’s music…in junior high (82-84) I was in the school choir. I had quite a nice baritone back in those days, at least Ms. Matthews thought so. In choir, we did a lot of Lionel’s ballads and I really grew quite fond of those tunes.
Enter 2012’s SxSW Music Festival. Earlier this week we learned that Lionel was going to be playing the awesome Moody Theater for the Billboard Magazine showcase. For those that don’t know, SxSW gives people the option to buy a badge or wristband to give you access to all of the official shows as space allows. I’ve never bought one as I generally can get in to most of the shows I want to see. But this one was different. My pals and I got into freakout mode trying to figure out how the hell we could get into the show. We assumed that since there’s an additional 100,000 people in town, the place would have the typical long lines of badgeholders to get in.
It was announced the day before the show that they would releases some tickets to the public the day of the show. As soon as I got off work, I met up with my friend at the bar across the street from the venue. Shockingly to me, there was no one in line at the badge area and only 10 folks in line to buy tickets. WTF? We sat in line from about 6:15PM to 8PM when they finally opened up the box office. $30 a ticket. That’s it! For Lionel! If would have paid $100 with no question. We got our tix and went in.
Have of the balcony area was closed off and the mezzanine level was for special guests only. There were 4 opening groups and we sat through them all.
The first was Wallpaper. A dancy, hip-hop-ish sort of thing with 2 drummers. Not my thing but they were solid and the co-singer/dancer girl was quite cute. I thought I heard someone say she was Sly Stone’s daughter. I don’t know.
Up next was Vintage Trouble. Four dudes dressed 40’s style. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals. It wasn’t my thing but it wasn’t bad. The singer was definitely influenced by James Brown in the way he dressed, moved and sang. If JB was in a rock band, this would be it.
Poliça came on next. Another group with 2 drummers. My friend put it best…”Everything But the Girl mixed with Dido.” That nailed it.
Terius “The-Dream” Nash was next. Hip hop. My switch was off. I wanted to see Lionel. I will say that The-Dream’s drummer was pretty incredible though.
They opened up the mezzanine area to everyone and we bolted down there from the balcony and got some decent seats. The place was still lightly attended. What a shock. But it didn’t matter. I was there, that’s what was important.
After a quick set change, Lionel comes on. A pre-recorded dancy version of Hello opened the show then they went right into Running With The Night. We were in freak out mode. After 2 or three songs, Lionel tells his band to leave the stage as he wanted to do some songs without the band. Lionel is 62 years old. He looked young, he sounded young and I think he made all of us feel younger again. During Dancing On The Ceiling they broke into a little bit of Van Halen’s Jump. Half of the set was Commodores songs.
The show was just plain awesome. The waves of emotion that hit me during certain songs, remembering that time and place when those songs first entered our lives. It was quite special and surely an experience I will never forget. He said there will be an upcoming tour and that he’d be back. I’ll be there!
Kenny Rogers came out and did Lady with him. That was cool. I will say I was a bit disappointed not to hear Truly. I adore that song. He also didn’t do Endless Love or Three Times a Lady. Maybe next time!
For some great pro shot pictures, click here.
What a night!