It’s been eight years by my reckoning since Richard Marx last played the UK, and he ended this famine in unusual circumstances, added to the bill of the British Summer Time show headlined by Barbra Streisand just a couple of weeks before the show.
This was a stroke of luck for me as a long-time admirer and suddenly I went from begging my other half to offer our second ticket elsewhere, to snaffling it for myself. Moreover, rather than seeing him on the main stage from miles away, craning to hear over the chatter that always seems to drown out the support acts here, he was playing a small second stage in a corner of the festival arena, allowing a sight of him at close and more enthusiastic quarters. Back of the net!
His arrival on stage was preceded by a short video of archive clips and interviews boasting of his achievements which, lest we forget, includes being a backing singer for the very biggest in the eighties, then a major star in his own right, and all this time a songwriter for others – indeed including Barbra Streisand herself.
In other hands this could come over as vainglorious, but he delivered the goods from the moment he stepped on stage for three fairly up tempo openers in ‘Endless Summer Nights’ where his band sounded good if a little ‘twangy’, ‘Take This Heart’ and ‘Angelia’.
As well as a pleasant, perfectly-pitched voice, he still has an enviable fresh-faced vigour about him and a droll sense of humour, not least when allowing a portrait from what he described as his ‘fluffy mullet’ days to be beamed behind him. I did wonder though if that hair has unfairly stigmatised his career ever since.
Joking that he had consulted Wikipedia to select his biggest UK hits for this short set, he also quipped that he appreciated no singing along during the stripped back ballad ‘Now And Forever’, but after another humorous intro, people were doing exactly that to ‘Hazard’ with the lyrics to this great story song beamed behind him.
‘Should’ve Known Better’ saw him and his fine band (including a near namesake in Kevin Marks on lead guitar) rocking out in a manner somewhat reminiscent of contemporary Bryan Adams, before Richard took to piano for the only time in the night.
This could only mean that wonderful ballad ‘Right Here Waiting’, the atmosphere enhanced when he let the crowd sing the first verse, then join in with it as it came round a third time, before he belatedly strapped on a guitar to end the song.
It was a very short and sweet set lasting just over 40 minutes, but the best news was that he used the occasion to announce a couple of solo dates at the Union Chapel next April. They promise to be a very special night after this unexpected appetiser reminded us of his very considerable talents.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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Power Plays w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)
BLOCK BUSTER Losing Gravity (Frontiers)
WATCH ME BREATHE Don’t Think I Haven’t Thought About It (The Label Group/INGrooves)
FIRES OF FREYA Take A Bow (indie)
BLACK STAR RIDERS Underneath The Afterglow (Nuclear Blast)
STOMPIN’ HEAT Shiny Curly Red Hair (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 THE DEFIANTS Zokusho (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CORELEONI II (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 TONY McLOUGHLIN True Native (Fuego)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
BAD COMPANY Company Of Strangers (1995)
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