Concert review: John Farnham and Lionel Richie, Vector Arena

By Bridget Jones

American singer songwriter Lionel Richie at Vector Arena in Auckland on Sunday night. Photograph/ Greg Bowker
American singer songwriter Lionel Richie at Vector Arena in Auckland on Sunday night. Photograph/ Greg Bowker

It seems like, all of a sudden, big-name acts are teaming up; no longer happy touring on their own. Power in numbers and all that, maybe. Queens of the Stone Age just did it with Nine Inch Nails; Kiss and Def Leppard are about to do it. And then there are the two 64-year-olds; one was the man with the Southern Hemisphere's most famous mullet, the other can't stop dancing on the ceiling.

It may have been a night with John Farnham and Lionel Richie at Auckland's Vector Arena, but the pairs performances were definitely separate affairs.

Anyone who saw Richie when he performed here a few years ago knows the man has still got it. He's smooth, he's slick and his voice is top notch. It's just not The Voice.

While Farnham might have been billed as the support act for the evening, the Aussie powerhouse managed to outperform The Commodores' singer.

On first, and sticking around for more than an hour, Farnham's understated, self-deprecating, Aussie battler demeanor was a crowd-pleasing approach. With his still powerful voice delivering hits like That's Freedom, Touch of Paradise, and, of course, You're The Voice complete with bagpipes, it was a perfectly paced trip down memory lane for the boisterous crowd.

And despite not hearing those songs for more years than can be remembered, the 1980s chart-topper proved that once his lyrics are in your head, they don't go anywhere. And judging by the enthusiasm shown, it might (almost) be cool to like Johnny Farnham again.

It was a hard act to follow, but Richie was probably the best man to try. After a 40 minute interval, and backed by a young, on-to-it band, Richie ploughed through hits from his whole career. It was a slow start, but once he pulled out The Commodores favourite Easy, the energy was back.

All Night Long, Dancing on the Ceiling and Hello rounded off a trip through more than 30 years of music, with Richie deftly navigating around the odd dud track with some charming on-stage banter.

This was never going to be rock and roll at its most aggressive, but these two strong hearts charmed the crowd, and kept the cheese to a tasty minimum.

What: John Farnham and Lionel Richie
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Tonight (Sunday).

- NZ Herald

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