Lionel and Mariah Bring All the Hits to Tampa
The energy level in the Amalie Arena was electric! Every demographic was represented from grandma to elementary schoolers! No last names needed. Everyone was here to see them!
The opening act was Tauren Wells, a Christian/spiritual musician who is catching on with his YouTube videos and has been given a great platform by opening this tour. Check out his “Hills and Valleys” video.
Mariah came out in diva style. Ms. Carey’s legion of fans were obvious throughout the audience. The 90’s were a time of only two great female voices, Whitney and Mariah. Five-time Grammy winner, Mariah is not just a singer but songwriter as well. Mariah has delved into acting, some of which she has gotten critical acclaim. But it’s the hits that the audience comes to hear. We won’t go into Mariah’s vocal issues here, we have all heard it. In Tampa, she sounded good and took great pains to show that she was not lip syncing by talking to the audience in between song lines and changing a word or two.
From her debut 1990 hit “Vision of Love” she gave us all the Mariah hits and then some. A surprise tune was a cover of Diana Ross’, 1976 “Love Hangover”. For “Always Be My Baby”, she brought out her adorable twins Morracan & Monroe to sing along and say hello to the audience. There were several costume changes. She closed with “Hero” which she originally wrote for Gloria Estefan and then decided to keep it and change it up. It has become her signature song. A great uplifting closer.
Commodore and 1980’s hitmaker Lionel Richie made a grand entrance to sit down at a grand piano and open with the Commodores “Easy” and you knew this was going to be a great trip down memory lane! At 68, there is no mistaking Lionel’s signature vocals. He stays true to the original recordings so that the audience can sing-along which they did the entire evening! He has a great band of musicians who help him keep with that!
Chatting in between songs, he makes this one big party that everyone is a part of. “Between the ages of 22 and 27, I was in the Commodores and got to judge “Brickhouse” contests around the world”, had the audience laughing and wolf whistling at the same time. He picked out a mother/daughter to joke with about mama dancing like a wild woman to “Brickhouse” and then said don’t forget this, “Someone was here before you and that is your mama!” The hits just kept coming, “Penny Lover”, “Dancing on the Ceiling” and the classic “Hello” with the audience singing along.
Lionel honored our fallen musicians such as Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Natalie Cole and Maurice White with the 1980’s anthem “We Are the World” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel, which takes us back to another time and place yet is still relevant today. Lyrics were on the big screen to sing along for those who weren’t born yet or had forgotten. It is a goose-bump moment during the near close of the show. But Lionel didn’t leave us quite yet, he had one last hit to deliver and everyone was up on their feet! It was time to raise the roof and have some fun! Everyone wanted Lionel to stay “All Night Long”!
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock The Lens Photography