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Music review

Lionel Richie brings hits back to life

From “You Are” to “Running With the Night,” it didn’t take fans long to remember how many hits Lionel Richie has had.

Robert E. Klein for the Boston Globe

From “You Are” to “Running With the Night,” it didn’t take fans long to remember how many hits Lionel Richie has had.

MANSFIELD — If an hour and 50 minutes would not technically be considered “All Night Long,” it was certainly enough time for Lionel Richie to do what the other half of his tour title promised, which was to play “All the Hits.”

Although he played abridged versions of some songs, Richie was never less than his enthusiastic self.

Robert E. Klein for the Boston Globe

Although he played abridged versions of some songs, Richie was never less than his enthusiastic self.

So while deep-cut fans were out of luck, those who came of age to ’80s top 4o pop radio and their predecessors who were turned on to the sublime funk pop of Richie’s launching pad the Commodores in the ’70s were ecstatically grooving.

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If anyone in the crowd at the Xfinity Center had forgotten just how many hits Richie had, it didn’t take long to remind them: The buoyant lilt of “You Are,” the insistent synths of “Running With the Night,” the silly fun of “Dancing on the Ceiling,” the slither and bounce of “Brick House,” and the unabashed romanticism of everything from “Hello” to “Three Times a Lady.” They all came pouring out of a man — and his lively band — who clearly still loves to perform them and was in fine shape to bring them to life again.

Although he played abridged versions of some songs, Richie was never less than his enthusiastic self. Between songs he cheekily bowed and blew kisses as if he had just won a title fight, goofed on the audience’s dancing skills, and engaged in some recurring shtick with a stagehand bringing him increasingly toxic-looking beverages.

A midset bit where he broke down the way he wrote songs and how his fans would come to him in various stages of romantic joy and heartbreak was comically charming.

It was that irrepressibility that helped make it easy to surrender to some of the night’s cornier moments, like the video images of exploding fireworks behind Richie as he melodramatically sang “Truly.”

The audience did its part, proving an able Diana Ross stand-in on “Endless Love” and swayed as one for the night-closing “We Are the World.”

The part of that crowd who arrived early didn’t react quite as warmly to the curiously paced opening set by Cee Lo Green of cover tunes and his own hits including “Forget You.” “The Voice” judge clearly became frustrated and unwisely unleashed those frustrations in an uncomfortable rant.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman
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