There is no way to quantify the impact both Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire had on music and the cultural zeitgeist as a whole, for more than a half-century. Their music is ever present in commercials, weddings, cookouts, movies & television, meme culture, and so much more. This past Tuesday, Richie and EWF graced the Wells Fargo Center for an immaculate double-header show that was attended by young and old alike.

Earth, Wind & Fire kicked off the evening with a rousing performance of their 1975 mega-hit “Shining Star.” Despite the passing of their band leader Maurice White in 2016, sax player Andrew Woolfolk in 2022, and peak-era drummer Fred White in 2023, the band did not miss a single beat.

Earth, Wind & Fire | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

Throughout their set, Earth, Wind & Fire’s 12-piece assembly that included multiple percussions, guitarists, and a three-piece brass section performed classics like “Let’s Groove,” and “September.”

Last to take the stage that evening was the former lead of the Commodores, American Idol judge, and a musical idol and icon in his own right, Lionel Richie. Following a phenomenally upbeat performance by Earth, Wind & Fire, Richie managed to turn Philadelphia’s largest indoor concert venue into an intimate concert, but chose to open with “Hello.” Richie emerged seemingly out of nowhere, from below the vertical end of the T-shaped stage. He was graceful, and charming, and shined a kilowatt smile throughout the song.

Lionel Richie | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

Richie acknowledged that it was many years since he last performed in Philadelphia, and how he found it odd that nine and 10-year-old fans run up to him while out in public – there were quite a few young fans in the building who could be seen singing along to his music (their parents must have some great taste in music).

Richie also performed with a few expert guitarists and sax players whom he allowed a few minutes of the spotlight to get busy for a solo on their instruments of choice. For a few songs, Richie himself sat down at an ivory-colored piano to serenade the crowd.

All in all, both Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire put on a show for the ages. Here’s to many more in the future.