Few hours before Lionel Richie’s concert Lionel Richie: All The Hits With Very Special Guest Mariah Carey was about to begin, I had to argue with friends about the singers’ ability to have Air Canada Center filled with crowd. If you have been to Air Canada Center once, then you know how big it is. Well, getting back to the beginning. “It’s a normal practice when using two big names the organizers try to sell more tickets. Lionel Richie or Mariah Carey have passed their time of fame they used to have, and now they are not as big as they used to be.” – a friend said. I had to say something in return or add something in the defence of Richie and Carey. And I must say, I was worried the statement given by a good friend might be true… And I was too close to find the fact proven… But only for a while.
It was 6:20 PM when after having dinner at Marché Mövenpick, I headed towards Air Canada Center. I was half excited and nervous at the same time like if it was a family member whose concert I was about to see. Indeed, I grew up on Mariah and Lionel Richie’s music. I loved Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. And as a matter of fact, I am not a concert-going person, but I have attended a few: Toni Braxton, Lara Fabian, Barbra Streisand and now Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie’s. Now you can judge my taste in music. And this is why to me, at least, was too important to find my favorite artists as great as they used to be before. After all, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie are way too different in terms of singing style. Mariah Carey can reach higher notes, while Lionel Richie can, but prefers not to. But does when it’s necessary. In both cases, they never have to push their voices to the limit. Because the talent they have is natural and they know well how to use it with little effort and not to damage their voices.
The clock was swiftly approaching 6:50 PM when I found the auditorium only half filled. That was a moment when I was so terrified while I was picturing myself as an entertainer who comes to the stage to find not many people love you anymore. 7 PM, and there you go; here somebody has started warming up the audience and it was not Richie or Mariah Carey. Alas. That is when I realized people knew Richie nor Mariah would not come up to the stage first, and nobody rushed to see the performance of any other singer, whether he was good or not. Don’t get me wrong, we all were there for two reasons and the third one we would have never accepted. I did though, but not many.
When Tauren Wells finished his performance, we had a long break until 8 PM. This is when I looked around and was fascinated by seeing Air Canada Center being completely full. Yes, the light goes down, and the beautiful lighting started, people screaming and here, Mariah Carey personally appears on the stage, gracefully and on the big chair, which looked like a throne, as if she was the Queen of the Venue, owned the time and excited the crowd. “Love Hangover”/”Heartbreaker” were the first to be heard by the audience. They all loved it. I heard that. And I saw it. “Shake it Off” shaked the entire Air Canada Center, just to remind people, there is another “One Sweet Day” through the performance of Carey. And then “My All”. If there’s someone who did not get chance to get connected with the spirit of the night, it was her most famous ballad that fixed all gaps, that I barely could find.
As Mariah Carey continued entertaining the audience, it was the last accord that brought the Air Canada center to its knee and every single person was lucky enough to attend the event, when the light of their cell phones indicated something bigger is coming… And there was, when Carey concluded her performance with “Hero” she herself wrote years ago. Just to hear that famous ballad live was a significant and undeniable proof the old Mariah Carey we all used to love did not go anywhere. She is still alive. She knew who we are. And she knew what we were expecting from her. And she gave it to all of us. The most wonderful show I’ve seen. Until Lionel Richie took the stage… which was another dream I personally lived in…
Did you ever know that Lionel Richie could have been an excellent actor, comedian or even a story teller? Well, I did not know that until I saw his subtle sense of humor, elegant gesture and the way he started interacting with the audience. It was mind-blowing. It was like an excellent trip down the memory lane I never had, but I wish I did. Starting his performance with “Easy” and “My Love” showed how much love the audience were about to give him. They all were excited, were dancing and singing along with him. He even had called out an elderly in the audience, he knew the old school must get its own recognition, and he did… Do you know how? Well, that’s something everybody should have seen the way he started performing “Hello’. That was a moment when people were caught by surprise. But that was another moment when I personally saw the way people cared about Lionel Richie. Yes, many would say he is from the 90s or 80s, or even earlier. New generation do not know much about old and beloved singers. But the moment when he performed his most famous love song “Hello”, I knew it; he knew it; and everyone realized that – people still love him and his songs so madly.
Then the time came for paying tribute to his friends that passed away; Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince and David Bowie when he started singing Michael Jackson’s “We are the World”. The emotions were overwhelming. People no longer could control themselves. Many, even myself have never heard this song being performed live. And that was a moment when I realized the power of getting connected with everyone around. Because we are who makes this world beautiful. And that’s why it’s logical to end the review of this concert by quoting Lionel Richie, when he looked at everyone and simply said: “Do you know this night is going to be the night you will never forget? And that is not because of me being here or Mariah Carey. But because of people around you see, those that you don’t know, but share the same passion.” To finish that, the only thing I hope is this passion for real music will have a long life to live. And we people will continue spreading love the way Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie did the other night!