REVIEW: Lionel Richie brings All The Hits to sun-baked crowd at Holkham Hall

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard - Credit: Archant

With the sun shining down, the picturesque grounds of Holkham Hall - a 300-acre 18th century country house in Norfolk - quickly fills up with older couples and groups of women enjoying Prosecco by the lake to get them ready for a headline performance by one of soul music’s biggest names, Lionel Richie.

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard - Credit: Archant

Before the legendary performer arrives Shane Filan delivers an uplifting warm-up of Westlife’s biggest singalong hits.

Through a succession of dance-inducing numbers including Cake By The Ocean, Uptown Girl and World of our Own, the Irishman quickly has everyone swaying their arms, singing and clapping along.

“This is probably the nicest setting we’ve had; it’s pretty incredible here,” Shane enthuses before making way for Lionel - and he’s not wrong.

It’s a uniquely picturesque concert setting...

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard - Credit: Archant

Appropriately named, Lionel Richie’s All The Hits tour is a two-hour throwback to decades past full of soulful and sensual fan favourites.

For the last of the U.K. run of shows, he performs to a packed crowd of thousands - most are dressed up for the occasion and dancing with a glass of Pimm’s or Prosecco in hand.

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It’s a rare Norfolk appearance, because he’s next taking the show to a residency in Las Vegas throughout October.

With a five-piece band by his side including guitarist, bassist, drummer, saxophonist and keyboardist, Lionel bounds onstage in a glittering white metallic jacket and trousers, sitting straight at the piano for ‘Easy’. “Let’s get this party started,” he encourages, winning the crowd over instantly with his likeable personality.

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard

Lionel Richie brings classic hits to Holkham Hall. PHOTO: Lucy Howard - Credit: Archant

“Where’s the rain? this can’t be England,” he jokes, soon after a rowdy guy upfront shouts “welcome to Norfolk!”

An effortless showman, Lionel makes use of the entire stage and ensures everyone’s energy is high from the off; his moustache and smile lighting up each of the six massive screens.

“Welcome to the show everybody, we are going to have the best night ever!” he says enthusiastically, getting everyone to turn around and say hello to their neighbours.

He’s endearing and funny to watch. ‘Stuck On You’ and the funky Commodores favourite Brick House’ are early highlights.

After a quick jacket change, he transforms all the women into Diana Ross for a massive ‘Endless Love’ duet.

“I have people on the front row, 12-years-old, who don’t know who the hell I am... until Hello” he jokes, leading into the highlight of the main set, party number ‘Dancing on The Ceiling’ - it’s the ultimate feel-good number.

Things then take a more somber turn as he honours those great musicians who are no longer with us.

“We’ve lost a lot of great artists and I’ve lost a lot of great friends,” he says humbly and emotionally, listing the likes of Prince, George Michael and BB King before paying tribute to his great friend Michael Jackson with their poignant collaboration ‘We Are The World’.

Its at this point that it becomes clear that we’re watching one of the very few living legends that are left...

Returning in a third jacket - this time sparkly blue and with the title of his encore track shining on it - ‘All Night Long’ is the perfect finale to an uplifting show that really has got ‘All The Hits’.

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