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Lionel Richie on one night, The Script close behind as Usana concert series opens

Music » R&B legend and pop-rock bands including The Script show diversity of outdoor amphitheater lineup.

By David Burger

Special to The Tribune

First Published Jun 05 2014 08:25 am • Last Updated Jun 11 2014 04:43 pm

It’s finally here.

After a longer-than-usual wait for Usana Amphitheatre’s outdoor concert series to begin, the summer season begins in earnest with two of the higher profile concerts of the outdoor venue’s biggest year ever.

At a glance

Lionel Richie with CeeLo Green

When » Tuesday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Where » Usana Amphitheatre, 5150 S. 6055 West, West Valley City

Tickets » $19.50 to $100 at SmithsTix

OneRepublic with The Script and American Authors

When » Saturday, June 14, at 7 p.m.

Where » Usana Amphitheatre, 5150 S. 6055 West, West Valley City

Tickets » $26 to $65 at SmithsTix

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R&B legend Lionel Richie will headline the first concert on Tuesday; hit-making pop-rock band OneRepublic headlines the second just four days later.

The pairing is a microcosm of Usana’s diverse upcoming lineup, which includes KISS, Journey, Michael Franti & Spearhead, 311, Goo Goo Dolls, Tim McGraw, Boston, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Australian Pink Floyd Show.

Richie and OneRepublic’s opening act, The Script, talked to The Tribune about summer, their hits and why dancing on the ceiling isn’t necessarily out of the question even when performing at an outdoor amphitheater.

Lionel Richie » It is a testament to Lionel Richie’s larger-than-life 1980s popularity that he is still generating excitement for his first major U.S. tour in years, even though his children have generated more tabloid headlines in the past decade.

A frequent vacationer in Utah, Richie told The Tribune that he became frustrated in the years before this tour when record companies and tour promoters told him he needed another hit album to become a viable touring headliner. "Lionel, get the hit record, and then you can tour," he remembered being told.

The hit album came in 2012’s "Tuskegee," a duets album with today’s top country stars. The arrangements leaned more toward country than his traditional R&B. It became his third No. 1 album and his first since "Dancing on the Ceiling" in 1986. The album takes its name from the Alabama city where he was born and where he later went to college.

Despite his recent success in the country world, Richie maintained that the Usana concert will keep in line with the slick sound of his popular 1980s singles. "You need to make sure the crowd knows when to come in," he said of sing-alongs to his songs. "You don’t want to confuse them."

And sing-alongs are meant to be delivered early and often, Richie, 64, said. After all, his tour is called All the Hits All Night Long.

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"This is a night where you don’t want to sit down."

The Script » The Irish pop-rock band very well could be headlining its own tour this summer, but instead decided to support frequent Utah visitor OneRepublic alongside the up-and-coming American Authors.

After, of course, U2, The Script is arguably the biggest Irish rock band in the world and especially in its homeland, and is making inroads in the American market with its lovelorn-themed hits including "Breakeven," "For the First Time" and "Hall of Fame."

"Hall of Fame" shows off The Script’s signature penchant of blending hip-hop influences into its rock, with The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am guesting on the hit.

Lead singer Danny O’Donoghue said a love of hip-hop came at an early age. Coming from a large musical family, his siblings each gravitated to different forms of rock and claimed them as their own. "Hip-hop was the only genre left for me," he said.

O’Donoghue, at 33, has been in the music business for a long time, starting out in boy band Mytown when he was a teenager before deciding to form a band with MyTown colleague Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power in 2001. That experience led him to become a judge on the United Kingdom’s version of the singing competition TV show "The Voice" for two seasons, which gave The Script more notoriety.

After two decades in the music industry, O’Donoghue said the most important thing he has learned is "to be nice" to everyone he meets. "It’s a cyclical business," he said.

The band’s subject matter tends to be bleak (tinged with an Irish sense of hope), but The Script doesn’t plan to rain on the tour’s parade.

"Our shows are sunny-day shows, while our albums are rainy-day albums," he joked.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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