Reviewed: Lionel Richie at Dubai Jazz Festival

Funk and soul legend shines on the second night of the 2020 festival in Dubai Media City

Reviewed: Lionel Richie at Dubai Jazz Festival

Lionel Richie won the hearts (and hips) of the crowd before he’d even begun. On the second night of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival 2020, the 70-year-old funk, soul and R&B legend proved the hottest ticket of the three-night event.

And throughout an upbeat, heavily disco-infused set, the man proved why. There was only one moment where attention pivoted from the night’s big star…After cruising on stage in a sparkling red track jacket, emblazoned with a diamante ‘Hello’ across the back, the charismatic entertainer kicked off with Running With the Night, smiling, waving and pointing at ecstatic fans.

While the first big cheers were for Dancing On the Ceiling, the brief interruption that followed went down just as well, as Richie introduced a young couple from the audience. Taking the young lady’s hand, Richie told the crowd she had ‘no idea what’s about to happen…’. The amphitheatre filled with whooping and thunderous applause before her partner had even dropped to one knee.Thankfully, she said yes, and in what will surely be one of the most surreal memories of their lives, the couple stayed on stage to be serenaded with Three Times a Lady.

After congratulating his guests and observing “that’s the calmest I’ve ever seen a guy, in that condition…’, Richie picked the mood straight back up with ‘a little Commodores singalong’, stage lights flashing a disco rainbow, crowd bouncing to the beat of Brick House.On a windy night, the band brought real heat to the stage. And not least because of all the pyrotechnics.

‘Just so you all know, the fire was real…’ Richie deadpanned, as he dabbed away sweat. ‘I asked for fire, and they gave me FIRE. Only in Dubai can I ask for fire and they wanna burn my Afro…’It was, as we’ve learned to expect from the legendary musician – no stranger to the UAE – just another brilliant gig from an expert entertainer. And an entertainer with no small back catalogue of hits to journey through.

Richie makes no secret of his love of the job, and it radiates from every performance he gives.Dubai may have been a little chillier than he’s come to expect (‘What is this? Chicago?’), but Richie’s sizzling set certainly raised temperatures in Media City.

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