Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire @ PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA 6-16-24

Lionel Richie @ PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA 6-16-24

Two giants in rhythm and blues, soul and pop played to a sold-out arena in Pittsburgh this past Sunday night. Lionel Richie and Earth Wind & Fire brought the jams to the PPG arena for one of the summer’s hottest shows. This show is dubbed the “Sing a Song All Night Long” tour. This latest leg only has 13 dates and is ending with this show in Pittsburgh.

First up were the boogie masters Earth , Wind & Fire. They had a countdown screen that let everyone know when the show as about to start. The 3 original members in bassist Verdine White, percussionist Ralph Johnson and lead vocalist Phillip Bailey all appeared strolling down the ramp singing the opening track, “Shining Star.” The band is a huge ensemble (12 all together) that also included co-vocalists David Whitworth and Bailey’s son Philip Bailey Jr. What was way to spend Father’s Day than to sing with your son in front of a sold-out crowd! The harmonies were rich and full all night long. Both Whitworth and Bailey JR. really provided co-lead vocals throughout the show. This helped preserve Bailey Sr.’s voice. It may not be strong as it once was, (as he is now 72), he still has that falsetto voice and hit some of the high notes in “Reasons.”  The group tacked a Beatles cover in “Got to Get You in My Life” and did a commendable job on it. They also dedicated “Devotion’ to one of the group’s founders in Maurice White (who passed away in 2016.)

Now to the headliner Lionel Richie. It’s been 38 long years since he has performed in the city of Pittsburgh but now the long wait was over.  Richie as numerous accolades including selling more than 125 million albums worldwide, earning four Grammy awards, and is now a newly minted member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  For the last several years, he has been a judge of the long spanning singing competition American Idol. You can say doing that TV show he has brought a new generation of fans to his performances. We will get to that part a little bit later in the review.

Richie rose from beneath the stage wearing a white tuxedo jacket surrounded by a bellow of smoke to a rousing ovation. Looking around and smiling, he then started singing the appropriate words “Hello.” Richie’s voice may not be the same as it was during its heyday (due to past vocals surgeries in the 90’s and his age) but he was able to change the way he sings. With his backing band providing harmonies, Richie was able to keep the momentum going as he went into “Running with the Night.” His sax player, bassist and guitar player joined him at the edge of the thrust for the end of the song. Richie made his way (the first of many more to come) to the piano to play “Easy.” That song led into “My Love.” Richie almost got himself in trouble first referring to the arena as the home for the Ducks. A short time later, he corrected himself saying the Penguins and Steeler Nation. The added “if I didn’t get this right, I may not be able to finish the show.” Before “Dancing on the Ceiling,” he saw 4 young boys I (maybe ages 8-10) in front of the thrust. He said ever since he started to do American Idol, kids like them are now chasing him through the malls saying “Lionel, “Lionel.” After “Three Times a Lady,” he quipped, “Guys, this is the closure song. I set it all up for you. If you can’t close after that song, I don’t know what else I can do for you.” This got a lot of laughs. In fact, the whole set was very structured like this. Richie said that the Commodores song “Brick House” should have put them in jail. He then integrated the Ohio Players “Fire” with actual pyro for the song. Richie talked a little about the new Netflix documentary that came out earlier this year called “The Greatest Night in Pop” as prelude to “We Are the World.” The show closed with an encore of “All Night Long.”

You will be hard pressed to find another frontman that is so sincere and likeable with the audience than Lionel Richie. He is a professionals professional in every sense of the word. There are very few (if any) that can work a room like Richie is able to. A terrific show by one of the best showmen in music today. It was well worth t wait for fans in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas!


Lionel Richie setlist:



Running With the Night

Easy (Commodores song)/My Love

Penny Lover

Stuck on You

Sail On (Commodores song)

You Are

Dancing on the Ceiling (Jump – Van Halen cover snippet)

Three Times a Lady (Commodores song)

Fancy Dancer/Sweet Love/Lady (You Bring me Up) (Commodores songs)

Just to Be Close to You (Commodores song)

Brick House(Commodores song)/Fire (Ohio Players cover – snippet)

Still (Commodores song)

Say You, Say Me (Commodores song)

We Are the World (USA for Africa song)

All Night Long (All Night)



Earth, Wind & Fire setlist:


Shining Star

Let Your Feelings Show

System of Survival

Serpentine Fire

Bass solo

Sing a Song

Got to Get You into My life (The Beatles cover)


After the Love is Gone (David Foster cover)


That’s the Way of the World


Boogie Wonderland

Let’s Groove



We would like to thank Morgan Nicholson from Livenation for the credentials to review the show