A marriage proposal was one of the highlights, during Lionel Richie’s performance at the Emirates Dubai Jazz Festival, on Thursday.
About two or three songs into his show, Richie called up Sean, the suitor, onto the stage. Sean got down on one knee and proposed to his fiancee. Teary-eyed, she said yes — to the sound of “oohs” and “aahs” from the capacity crowd at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.
Richie then dedicated the song ‘Three Times A Lady’ to the couple, which he sang while playing the grand piano himself, in a performance peppered with wit and a befitting warm ambience.
“She keeps saying I can’t believe it’s really Lionel Richie,” the singer said, without missing a beat.
The American singer is the holder of many awards and nominations, including four Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Song for ‘Say You, Say Me’.
Earlier, the evergreen 70-year-old had appeared on stage in his signature sporty look, wearing a sparkling orange jacket, emblazoned with the words Hello in glitter across the back.
Richie’s age belies his youthful exuberance. He sang most of his songs while on the piano. And when he was not sitting down he ran up and down the stage at speeds that would put Usain Bolt to shame. And when he was not running, he was cracking jokes.
“In case you are wondering,” he said when flame-throwers shot tongues of fire on stage at one point. “That fire was real, and I felt it!”
The singer opened the show with ‘Easy (Like Sunday Morning)’.
The former Commodores frontman no longer has his band from the 1970s, with whom he sang that song, but the young guys he has these days did a fantastic job of hitting all the right notes. The saxophone in Dubai on Wednesday was Motown Records reincarnated.
Next was Penny Lover, a song written by Richie and his then wife, Brenda Harvey Richie.
“I have forgotten some of the lyrics to this song,” he joked, “So when I point the microphone at you I want you to sing the words.”
His saxophonist switched to harmonica, to deliver a set to remember.
The crowd swayed to the song and some could be heard trying to guess which of his hit songs Richie would sing next.
And then it was time for a wardrobe change. Out went the orange jacket and in came a sparkling blue one, written ‘All Night Long’ across the back, as if sending the message that showtime was only beginning. He would later swap that for a white one.
Another Commodores-era hit, ‘Sail On’, ensued, followed by the mega hit ‘Destiny’ and the funky ‘Brick House’.
Another highlight of the evening was when Richie took time to remember some of his departed friends in the music industry, among them David Bowie, Prince, Whitney Houston and George Michael.
He then sang ‘We Are The World’, the 1985 song that featured Richie and more than 12 of his fellow big-name artists.
Earlier in the day, singer Sammy Miller had also performed at the festival.