A fan gave Lionel Richie a lei during his concert at the Blaisdell Arena last night. Richie's concert was his first in Hawaii since performing with the Commodores in the mid-1970s.

Richie says ‘Hello’
aloha-style to crowd

The pop star wows his isle
fans with old favorites and
bonus Commodores songs

By John Berger

"Three Times A Lady" may have been the biggest hit of the night for many Lionel Richie fans, but "Running With The Night" and a expansive tribute to the Commodores were obvious audience favorites as well last night as Richie made a welcome return visit to Honolulu for the year's first big concert in Blaisdell Arena.

Richie took the stage a few minutes after 8:30 and owned the crowd downstairs within moments. He opened with "Hello" and followed it with "Running With The Night," and soon connected with the fans in the high-altitude seats as well.

The show was for the most part a live preview of his ninth solo album, "Encore," which is already out in Europe and Japan, and scheduled for American release in February, but he omitted the two new songs that America will hear for the first time next month. That meant there was more time for his classic material -- who can complain about that?

The Commodores segment was an unexpected bonus. Richie did almost all the Commodores' '70s and early '80s classics and the crowd loved all of them.

"Still" and "Easy." two other hits he wrote and recorded with the Commodores. were there of course. "Hello," "Penny Lover" and "Stuck On You," represented the softer side of his solo work as a singer/songwriter.

"Running With The Night," "All Night Long (All Night)," and "Dancing On The Ceiling," the latter featuring a riff or two from Van Halen's "Jump," got much of the crowd.

Richie worked the stage for most of the show but also displayed his skill as a pianist on several numbers -- "Easy," "Oh No," "Stuck On You" and "Three Times A Lady" among them.

And, as he predicted, much of the concert was a joyous sing-along.

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