Lionel Richie and J-Lo at British Summer Time Hyde Park
For the past ten days Barclaycard has hosted British Summer Time in Hyde Park putting on daily festivals which saw big acts such as The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, The Beach Boys and JLS headline on separate days. On Sunday 14th July, it was the turn of global-superstars Lionel Richie and J-Lo (aka Jennifer Lopez) to co-headline the Old Oak Tree Stage (the main stage).
First to play is J-Lo accompanied by a handful of male dancers who seem to lose more clothing as the set goes on. Just as famous for her films as her music, she is ever the performer. Each song has its own performance and choreography. Like Beyoncé and Rihanna, her show focuses more on the theatrics than the actual music, but unlike her contemporaries this is her downfall. Whereas Rihanna can change her clothing in less than a minute J-Lo takes about four and with around four costume changes there is a lot of waiting around for her which unsettles the audience. Particularly the first change where some tech men fumble around with a fake boxing ring which is followed by a fake, slow-motion boxing fight that after a while just gets boring.
Perhaps it’s fair to say then that it is only when J-Lo isn’t on stage when interest is lost because when she does return she has the whole audience’s attention. Her dancing is hypnotising as she moves across the stage, the choreography is superb and precise and there are no slip-ups throughout. A quick glance at the giant screens behind her highlights the impressive collection of artists she has worked with. Lil’ Wayne on I’m Into You, Flo Rida on Goin’ In and Pitbull on Live It Up. The latter of the three gets the whole crowd on its feet jumping higher and higher upon J-Lo’s request. However, this points out another problem: if you compare her to the younger generation again you will see she doesn’t have that memorable back catalogue. Whereas Beyoncé has her Single Ladies and Crazy in Love and Rihanna has pretty much her whole singles output from the last five years, J-Lo has nothing on that scale, except maybe Love Don’t Cost a Thing from 2001. On the other hand, the audience is completely engaged and she does know how to put on a very good performance which is something she proves today − leaving the crowd wanting more.
However, you do have to feel bad for Lopez, because as soon as the next act comes on stage and sings his first song, her set is completely blown out of the water and forgotten. Lionel Richie comes on, with a surprisingly young band and one of the most impressive saxophonists seen in a while, and goes on to perform a collection of his biggest hits. He comes on to a remix of Hello − this accompanied by his band and the clothes he is wearing suggest that he is trying to reach out to a younger audience as well as his normal fans. If this is true there was no need to make the effort as the ratio of younger people to old is 1:1, showing that his influence spans generations. He opens with All Around the World and continues to perform every big song of his that you can think of. It’s all there: Three Times a Lady, Running with the Night, Hello − the list goes on and on, and the way he performs is amazing. Watching him bound across the stage throwing dance moves that would make J-Lo proud, especially on crowd-pleaser Dancin’ on the Ceiling, you would never guess he recently turned 64.
He also involves the audience at every chance he has. He requests for their help in singing Say You, Say Me, something which turns into a spectacle to listen to. He also tells a story about calling Diana Ross asking her to perform their duet Endless Love, but upon her decline he decided that he has 40,000 Dianas in his audience tonight and follows with a duet between himself and these 40,000 people. There are a few technical faults − one of the screens isn’t in sync with the performance and the fuzzy microphone but this doesn’t distract the attention from Richie. At one point the microphone completely cuts out during Easy but you would never know as the audience are still singing the words.
He closes with All Night Long. Like with the rest of the set the whole audience joins in, and there is a shared feeling that we don’t want this show to end. People have asked: “How is Lionel Richie still going?” – this is his answer to that question. With one of the most impressive back catalogues around he could keep partying all night long for years to come, and hopefully he does. A great ending to a great week of music.
Verdict: Lionel Richie
Photos: Nanancy Parvana (J-Lo) and Jacqueline Morris (Lionel Richie)
Watch the video for J-Lo’s Live it Up here: