The Eden Sessions 2016 kicked off in a big way this week when legendary singer-songwriter Lionel Richie took to the stage at the Eden Project near St Austell, Cornwall. With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide, this was Lionel’s first ever headline show in the South West and his first UK show since his legendary performance at Glastonbury Festival last summer.
Greeted with one of the loudest roars Eden has ever heard, Lionel ploughed straight into what would turn out to be a hit-filed extravaganza. Mixing solo songs, duets and of course plenty of classics from his time with the Commodores, Richie delighted the 6000 people in attendance with a whirlwind tour through his back catalogue.
From phenomenal sing-a-longs to restless ‘dance-a-longs’, the audience were clearly impressed with their idol for the whole duration of his performance. What really stood out though, beyond the superbly tight band and utterly infectious songs, was the sheer joy that Lionel himself bought to the stage. From the first song to the last, he enthralled us with his charisma and humour. Not convinced with just playing the hits, he took it upon himself to explain their backstories, share jokes with the audience and take as much time to interact with the crowd as possible. “This truly is God’s house” he declares after the second song, much to the delight of the Eden crowd, followed by a story about his tour around the site earlier in the day.
“I’m gonna get another one from the treasure chest now” he exclaims, before launching into a seriously funky rendition of Brick House, which marked one of the biggest dances of the night from the audience. “I invited Diana Ross along for this one, but she said no” Richie tells the audience, right before Endless Love. “But it’s okay, you can do her part. You be Diana Ross and I’ll be, well, Lionel Richie!”. Who could argue with that?
The finale of the set saw ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ and ‘Hello’ receive huge responses from the crowd, before surprising everyone with ‘We Are The World’, the supergroup charity single that Richie wrote with Michael Jackson. Finishing with 80’s classic ‘All Night Long (All Night)’, it’s hard to imagine a better evening besides the biomes. Lionel was everything we hoped for and he’s truly gone down in Eden Sessions history!
📸: Jacob Woolcock
📝: Stuart Wright