News center
We strive to constantly expand our product offerings to meet customer needs worldwide.

Lionel Richie, EWF light up TD Garden all night long

Jul 16, 2023

The first time Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire played together, way back in the ’70s, they packed an arena. The last time Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire played together, Friday night at the TD Garden, well, they packed an arena.

Back in the day, Earth, Wind and Fire were untouchable – the sharpest, coolest, most pop savvy of the funk kings. Richie was with the Commodores and not yet the breakout star. Now Richie is the bigger icon – with the closing spot on the duel headlining bill – but not much else has changed.

Earth, Wind & Fire started the night bright, bold, loud, proud, funky, freaky, and fabulous. And that just describes their threads. Hey EWF, the ’70s called, the decade wants you to know it’s positively thrilled with your look, and sound, and energy, and vibe, and horn section. (Late band founder Maurice White would be thrilled too – the legacy is in the good hands of brother Verdine White and longtime members Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson.)

In just over an hour, EWF crammed in everything it needed to. The band proved it could tear the roof off the sucker with a fast and furious opening one-two-three punch that connected “Shining Star,” “Let Your Feelings Show,” and “Serpentine Fire.” It dropped in a few sweet ballads, the best being “After the Love Has Gone.” It reminded Boston that nobody triangulates tight pop, bottom-heavy disco and deep soul (see “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s Groove”). Oh, and “September” is ain’t bad.

Lionel Richie never gave much thought to triangulating genres. For Richie, it was all tight pop, all the time. The move made him a god in the ’80s, and he was only too happy to relieve those days with 20,000 ecstatic fans.

To start his set, Richie rose up through the floor at the end of a catwalk at the center of the arena. In a gleaming white jacket. Singing “Hello.” (Because of course he did.)

From there the pop got groovy (the Commodores’ “Brickhouse”) and rockin’ (“Running With The Night”). The pop got (momentarily) overshadowed by pyro, lights and lasers. It got a few bars to relax into its earthy singer-songwriter roots when Richie sat behind a white grand piano to sing Commodores classics “Easy,” “Sail On,” and — at a whole different grand piano at the end of the catwalk — “Still”

But it mostly shimmered, a set of perfectly glossed up ’80s mid-tempo numbers and ballads that crushed the adoring arena. And Richie just rolled right through them, a catalog unlike any other, “Truly,” “Stuck on You,” “You Are,” … The sheer amount of lite, Top 40 pop the man has is staggering. Even the heavy stuff such as “Dancing on the Ceiling,” was effervescent (note “Dancing on the Ceiling” can only be called heavy when it’s sandwiched between “You Are” and “Three Times a Lady”).

At 74, Richie can still get down — he did a block of far-out Commodores tunes — but his wheelhouse has always been towering, syrupy, sublime and earnest pop. He knows that. He closed with a truly heartfelt “Say You Say Me,” a wait-is-he-really-doing-this-yes-I-think-he-is “We Are the World,” and perfect encore “All Night Long (All Night).”

Sign up for email newsletters