Photos by Vito Ingerto
Rarely do a group of legendary performers grace the same stage on the same night. But Friday night saw the stars align when Lionel Richie and Earth Wind & Fire brought the Sing A Song, All Night Long tour to the Xcel Energy Center. Where else could you see such fabulous artists lay down a set of nothing but bangers? From the 70’s until the 90’s, you couldn’t listen to the radio or watch MTV without hearing or seeing Earth Wind & Fire or Lionel Richie.
Earth Wind & Fire were first up Friday night. They started the show off on a funky note with an amazing opener of “Shining Star”. With a unique blend of funk, jazz, R&B, disco and soul, the band brought monster grooves to the stage. The band commanded radio in the 70’s, and they brought out all of those dominating hits Friday night with a huge amount of energy. “Serpentine Fire”, “Sing A Song”, “Gotta Get Ya” brought the crowd back to days when you listened to tunes on the car radio with your friends. The harmonies on “After The Love” were next level. The entire 75 minuet plus set hit like a ton of bricks, but the massive three song barrage of “Boogie Wonderland”, Let’s Groove” and “September” sent the X into the stratosphere. Not one person was in there seat, everyone was grooving with the beat.
The X went wild when the house lights went down, then cranked up even further when 4 time Grammy winner Lionel Richie hit the stage. The large video screen at the back of the stage counted down and flashed images of Lionel through the years, the band eased into “Running With The Night”, Richie basked in the glow of the audience adulation, bathed in sequins and leather. He seemed to be just as excited to be in St. Paul as the folks there were to see him. And it became an instant sing along as he pointed the mic to the crowd and let them sing the first chorus. And with his band backing him, he was able to make this 35 year old song seem fresh. After some banter with the audience, which he did continuously throughout the 90 min set, Richie jumped behind the grand piano center stage and continued the sing along with the Commodores classic “Easy’ which seamlessly eased into “My Love”.
The hits just kept coming, and the house went crazy when Richie pulled a Commodores trifecta with“Brick House”, “Sail On” and “Lady(You Bring Me Up)”. The tempo, but not the energy, slowed down with “Three Times A Lady”, “Endless Love” and “Hello”. The mellowness was short lived, as “Dancing On The Ceiling” had everyone dancing at the X. Richie gave everyone a powerful message of hope before going into the set closer “We Are The World”, then came back for an explosive encore with “All NightLong”
There will be a lot of hoarse folks on Saturday as their voices recovers from the All Night Long Sing A Long.