Lionel Richie put on a heated, hit filled show at the Gexa Energy Pavilion
Photo by Chuck Cox
Rattle and Hum Sports

By Chuck Cox

Special Contributor

Watching Lionel Richie on Friday night at Gexa Energy Pavilion was a lot like stepping into a time machine. A hot and sweaty time machine.

But the steamy Texas summer night did nothing to deter the ageless wonder and former lead singer of the Commodores from taking the huge crowd on a journey through a catalog of songs it has known and loved for as far back as it could remember. Perhaps back to when Richie sported his trademark afro.

I suspect the shorter hairdo and tamer outfit were probably about the only two things different from seeing Richie in the 1980s (which he just about owned) and 2014. He sounded great, looked great (albeit very sweaty) and appeared as though he could continue playing big-time shows as long as he wants to continue to do so.

The “All the Hits All Night Long Tour” was exactly as advertised. With a 24-song setlist that included most of his 16 Top-40 solo hits, a handful of┬áCommodores’ 17 Top-40 hits and set closer “We Are the World,” which Richie penned with the late Michael Jackson. There wasn’t a song all evening I wasn’t super familiar with.

Even with the heat, Richie looked like he was having a blast playing Dallas for the first time in more than eight years. “Where do you turn on the air conditioning unit?” he joked with the crowd early on in the show.

The crowd ate up every bit of Richie’s show, which included a four-piece band backing him up on a wide-open stage set-up with a big video screen at the back and small ramps on either side he occasionally scaled to get closer to the fans. Richie was steady and true all night, playing songs, telling stories and stopping to applaud the crowd for singing and dancing.

One story was about how he stole the idea for “Three Times a Lady” from a toast his dad made to his mom. Richie said his dad just wanted to know where his money is for the No. 1 Commodores hit from 1978. It was really a fun show — especially since I had never seen Richie live before. I also had a great seat, so I got to see him up close. That didn’t hurt, either.

I don’t think there was really a song I enjoyed hearing more than any of the others, because they were all so great and such even performances. ┬áBut “Dancing on the Ceiling,” “Penny Lover,” “Say You, Say Me,” “Hello” and “Stuck on You” sure took me back to my high school days. That’s one of the many things I love so much about music — its ability to instantly take you back to a place and time in your life is truly special.

Cee Lo Green opened with a 40-minute set that was entertaining enough. He’s not exactly one of my favorites, but with a show that did not lack any production value, he was solid. And after a slew of cover songs, he finished up strong with a cool arrangement of “Crazy” from his Gnarls Barkley days and his monster hit “F*** You.” He seemed legitimately grateful to be opening for Richie. Who wouldn’t be?

Queen + Adam Lambert on Thursday and Richie on Friday. How do I top that? I’m going to see if a trip to Denver for a couple of the Avett Brothers shows at Red Rocks can do the trick. Come on back and see me.