Make us your home page
Instagram

Lionel Richie, in Tampa tonight, sets a mood like no one else

Singer Lionel Richie is in Tampa on Monday. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for BET)

Singer Lionel Richie is in Tampa on Monday. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for BET)

When I say Lionel Richie is one of the great mood-setters in pop music, I'm not just talking about spinning his records to better heat up date night. (Although that works, too.)

As a member of the Commodores and then a chart-topping solo star, the now-65-year-old R&B king was exceptional at composing brutally beautiful beginnings, hooking you fast, especially on the ballads. Nothing against the rest of the song, but his top skill has always been hammering your heart straight out of the gate, a talent that has helped him sell more than 100 millions albums worldwide. Think of the classical, contemplative piano on 1981's Endless Love, and then those words: "My love, there's only you in my life..." The stop-start baroque feel of Truly ("Girl, tell me only this...") The hope of a sunrise contrasted against the dread of waking up alone on the devastating Still ("You laughed at me, you said you never needed me").

Try to forget the cheesy video with that terrifying clay bust of Lionel: The cinematic preface of voyeuristic hit Hello gives the song a tricky undercurrent that most people overlook (perhaps because of that terrifying clay bust of Lionel). And, of course, there's Three Times a Lady, which I always thought was a breakup song (it's not), only because that initial piano is so subtly intense.

Here's hoping the enduring star's big Tampa gig on Monday showcases those small, intimate beginnings that make you want to sob — and sing along.

Lionel Richie, with special guest Cee Lo, performs 7:30 p.m. Monday at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $31-$131. (813) 740-2446.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife.

Lionel Richie, in Tampa tonight, sets a mood like no one else 07/14/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2014 12:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 28

    Events

    Alabama: The country music all-timers hit the road for the Southern Drawl tour with openers, the Charlie Daniels Band. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $26-$86. (813) 301-2500.

    Handout photo of Alabama, performing 5/28/17 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Credit: Alan Messer
  3. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach

    Travel

    GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND

    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  4. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O’Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Evita in April.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 27

    Events

    Tampa Bay Margarita Festival: The Barenaked Ladies will headline this festival with opener Cowboy Mouth. Enjoy more than 50 varieties of margarita drinks including a Sriracha strawberry, a bacon rita and even a jalapeno Cabo rita. There's beer and vodka for the non-tequila drinkers. Noon, Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N …

    istockphoto