(Jerome-Duncan Ford Theatre, Sterling Heights, MI - August 25th, 2005)
Before he released his first album, Richard Marx sang on commercials and was a backing vocalist for Lionel Richie. It was here that he learned the commercial pop skills that made him an adult contemporary radio star in the late '80s.
Shooting to the top of the charts upon the release of his eponymous debut in 1987, Marx's first hit was the California rocker "Don't Mean Nothing," but his real strength lay with ballads like "Right Here Waiting," which became an adult contemporary staple in the late '80s.
Tonight, and for the first time in seven long years and more, the boyish charms of Richard Marx played live once again for his adoring public. Culling instantly from his latest album, My Own Best Enemy Marx begins the set with 'Love Goes On,' follows it with the classic 'Endless Summer Nights,' and tags on the freeflowing 'When You're Gone.'
Playing to a very happy crowd on a beautiful night under the stars, his no-frills stage setting is perfect to allow Marx's permanent grin to beam through time and time again. "It's so good to be back in your hood," he says for the first time, "And we're gonna play a lot of music for you tonight."
Keeping to the promise, his hour and a half show continues onwards with the older staples 'Angelia' and - having introduced it as "Now we're going back to the '80s, when music was music, MTV was for videos, and when hairstyles were, ... well, whatever!" - 'Should've Known Better.' Bringing a stool out to the front of stage, he picks up an acoustic guitar and sings us both 'Hold on to the Nights' and 'Now and Forever.' Introducing his bassist as Vertical Horizon's very own Sean Hurley, the band then break into an impromptu version of Horizon's biggest hit to date, 'Everything You Want.'
Mentioning that the next song was one he wrote back in '91 in the back of a tour bus, the darkly-intriguing 'Hazard' is next, followed by the new track 'Ready To Fly,' 'Take This Heart,' and the new song that he has just co-written for Keith Urban, the Country-afflicted 'Better Life.' A funky opening to the guitar-influenced 'Dancin' is quickly followed by the Rockpile classic 'I Hear You Knockin.'
Assuring the crowd that as they may well have come to the end of the show, that there was no need for the band to walk off stage and do that whole 'encore routine,' Richard and his band stay right where they are and break out the final two tunes of the night ... the highly-anticipated 'Right Here Waiting' and the rocker that got it all started, 'Don't Mean Nothing.' "Thank you, my Detroit, Michigan friends and please drive carefully" is the final retort from the amiable pop/rocker. But, for both the casual and the longtime fan, tonight’s step-back-in-time was a musical blessing of the highest order and one that was far too long in the making.
Richard, please come back soon, for all our sakes!
Photos and Review by Russell A. Trunk