Lionel Richie assessed the 8,000-strong crowd gathered at the SAP Center in San Jose and decided it could be divided up into two distinct groups.

"One group is the 'I was there from the beginning,'" the 64-year-old R&B-pop star said. "And the second group is 'My mama played it every night at home while I was growing up.'"

For certain, Richie's career has spanned multiple generations of listeners. Some fans were first turned on to his talents in the mid-1970s, when he helped craft hit after hit as a member of the Commodores. Other listeners came upon his music in the '80s, as he jostled with Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna for supremacy on the charts. Then there are those who have only recently made his acquaintance, thanks to last year's "Tuskegee," which was Richie's first No. 1 album in more than 25 years.

All of these different kinds of fans seemed to equally enjoy Richie's show on Thursday night. That's no surprise, since the singer is sticking to the A-list material during his aptly named All the Hits All Night Long tour.

The master showman, who seems to grow more stage-savvy with each passing year, rolled through the decades during his roughly two-hour concert, finding gold (or platinum) at every stop along the way. It was a truly representative 27-song outing, with nearly a dozen hits hailing from his great days with the Commodores and the rest (minus one cover song) coming from his lengthy heyday as a solo artist.


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Not all of Richie's songs have aged well -- but the performer certainly has. He looked great, basically just like the guy on the cover of 1983's landmark "Can't Slow Down" album. And he sounded even better. He's lost very little vocal range over the years, and he can still sell a ballad like nobody's business.

The staging was remarkably bare-bones, but Richie and his five-piece backing band didn't need smoke bombs, laser lights or other special effects to hold this crowd's attention. All they needed were songs that stirred our memories -- and those certainly weren't in short supply.

It's pretty amazing that Richie can play 27 songs, all of which were worth hearing, and folks can still leave the concert talking about the numbers left off the set list.

He played basically every solo hit one would want to hear -- which, to be frank, translates to the smashes from his first three albums, 1982's eponymous debut, 1983's "Can't Slow Down" and 1986's "Dancing on the Ceiling." Yet he certainly could've added to his Commodores total and included such songs as "Machine Gun" and "Slippery When Wet." And I have to believe that "Too Hot ta Trot" would've brought the house down.

However, the show was still an embarrassment of riches for Richie fans. The Commodores offerings were definitely among the best of the night, with "Easy," "Sail On," "Lady (You Bring Me Up)" and especially "Brick House" firmly connecting with the crowd.

Richie was nearly as good between the songs. He's such a likable character, who spins stories and tells jokes with confidence and ease. (I loved when he softly poked fun at himself and older fans by repeatedly talking about eight-track tapes.) He's been at this a long time, yet his enthusiasm for the music and his fans certainly hasn't dampened over time.

He closed the main set in the same fashion that he opened it -- by running through a steady succession of songs the fans all knew by heart. The end came with a particularly nice mix of ballads and fast numbers, moving through "Say You, Say Me," "Brick House," a cover of the Ohio Players' "Fire," "Hello," "All Night Long (All Night)" and finally, as the encore, "We Are the World."

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.