Still, he's a consummate performer, and Richie was all smiles throughout the night as he moved through a formidable back-catalogue of hits, rocking the crowd gently with yacht-rocking classics like "Easy."
The performance was many things to many people. For younger audiences, there's an ironic hilarity to Richie's over the top sincerity and schmaltz. For others, Richie's music has simply been a ubiquitous force in their lives, and many couples slow-danced in their own personal bubble, oblivious to the thousands of people around them. Richie acknowledged this division and walked the line between them. He spoke often about the power of his own music. More than perhaps anyone at the fest, Lionel Richie believes in the power of Lionel Richie.
A medley of Commodores hits brought some much-needed funkiness to the proceedings, but it was Richie's biggest hits "Dancing on the Ceiling," "All Night Long" and, yes, "Hello," that really got the crowd going. He ended the night with the charity hit he penned with his good friend Michael Jackson. "We Are the World" is a tough song to listen to, let alone sing, with a straight face, yet Richie didn't miss a beat and, at least for a brief moment, he had everyone in attendance believing right along with him.