Review Snapshot: An 80s heart-throb making his debut appearance in Ireland has the crowd eating out of his hand with a mix of story and song from an illustrious singing and songwriting career that would have even his most cynical critics smiling.
The Cluas Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
Full Review: Richard Marx! Now there’s a name from the '80s that we haven’t heard much from lately, but thankfully the man is back with a new album ‘Stories To Tell’, which includes some stripped down covers of his classic hits, and these are what he performed at Dublin’s National Concert Hall during his first ever gig in Ireland.
Opening with ‘Endless Summer Nights’ and ‘Take This Heart’, this two hour show basically featured, one man, 2 guitars and a piano, and the occasional assistance of his mate Steve tinkling the ivories, but it really was a one-man show of music and chat, and what stories he told us throughout the evening.
Coming through passport control earlier that day he informed us that the lady asked him what he was doing in Ireland. Upon telling her he was a singer/songwriter she enquired “And would I know any of your songs”. Telling her, she might, she then asked him to sing her one. He looked around and saw a huge queue forming behind him, and instead told to Google him, to which she replied “Do I look like I have time here to Google you”. It was this kind of humour and relaxed atmosphere that really set the tone for the evening.
Before ‘Keep Coming Back’ he spoke about the late Luther Vandross ringing him up asking if he needed anyone to do backing vocals on any of his songs. “That’s like us playing basketball in the yard, and Michael Jordan enquiring if we need another team member”, he joked.
During songs the crowd would shout up several requests. “At least you’re shouting up my songs” he said, before going on to tell us about the guy at a gig that keep asking for ‘Cuts Like A Knife’, and not realising it wasn’t one of his. He concluded by telling us about going backstage at a Bryan Adams gig six months ago, relaying the story to Bryan and asking him “Do people shout out my songs at your gigs?” - to which Adams defiantly said “No”.
‘Hazard’ had everyone singing every single word, a song he said he hated, but his wife told him it’d be a hit. “So I recorded it with a big band, just to prove her wrong. It went to no. 1 in 13 countries” he added.
He sat at the piano for the first time this evening to perform ‘Through My Veins’, an emotional tribute to his late dad on the video screen behind, whom he’s not shy in revealing that he was a fantastic musician, and it’s certainly hereditary.
For ‘Angelia’ he told us about needing a four-syllable girls name to fit into a song he’d written, and found it courtesy of a stewardess serving him a ginger-ale on a flight to Texas, while ‘Satisfied’ was another track performed from the classic ‘Repeat Offender’ album. At one stage during the evening he joked “you may know this next song, but please don’t join in, you’ll ruin it”.
A new song ‘Save Me’ showed that talent certainly runs in the family. His three sons (the Marx brothers) played piano, drums and guitar individually on the screen behind him, while he sang this rocky number, and there’s no doubt we’ll hear more from them in the future.
He was genuinely impressed with the acoustics in the National Concert Hall, by spontaneously pulling the lead out of his guitar, walking away from the microphone and sitting down at the front of the stage to perform ‘Always On My Mind’. You could have heard a pin drop. This is what the term ‘Unplugged’ typifies.
Then he sang a few of his own compositions that were recorded by other artists. Introducing ‘Better Days’ by Keith Urban he says “This was a huge hit for Nicole Kidman’s husband….Tom Cruise” he joked, while performing ‘This I Promised You’ (N Sync) he had another great story to tell.
"N Sync were huge when they recorded my song, so we had to find studio miles away from anywhere, but the girls would follow them and camp out waiting for them. About 3am in the morning when we finished, the guys were secretly taken out a back door, while I just walked out the front door to the parking lot. As I was putting my stuff into the car, a 19 year-old girl appeared out of nowhere” he added. “Are you Richard Marx” the girl enquired. “Yes” he said, to which she replied “Oh my God! My mum loves you!” So he dedicated ‘This I Promise You’ to “all the mums”.
“This next song was recorded when I had a mullet” was his intro to ‘Should’ve Known Better’ and for the encore he gave us “my first hit” ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’, the ballads ‘Hold On To The Night’ and ‘Now And Forever’ blended in together, and he sat at the piano for the final song of the evening, his signature song ‘Right here Waiting.
“Thank you Dublin, you were amazing” were his parting words as he spent time shaking hands with several fans. He promised he’ll come back and on this performance there’s no doubt he’ll fill the place again. On a glorious June evening, this was one endless summer night to remember.