Concert review: Richard Marx at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre
Richard Marx is the best-kept secret in music. Let me clarify that: Marx is the best-kept secret among music fans, because the scores of actual musicians out there who have made hits and fortunes with the songs he's written for them know all about Marx. But it always surprises me when he plays smaller venues while out on the road doing his acoustic shows. Surely if fans out there could experience just ONE of these nights, they'd keep coming back and sell out bigger houses.
Still, Marx had the luxury of a sold-out house of about 500 for Saturday night's show at Clearwater's historic Capitol Theatre, the same venue where he began these intimate shows back in 2010. Among the sometimes "overly lubricated" crowd were scores of fans who have returned annually to see his shows, which gave Marx all the encouragement he needed to mix up the show a little.
Beginning with a screening of his hilarious new video for Christmas Spirit, Marx strolled onstage and instantly impressed with Endless Summer Nights, one of a dozen or more songs of his that never ages. Another new song, the ballad Loved, was played on piano and fans were bowled over by it. Save Me, which Marx performs with videotaped performances from his three sons playing behind him, is an annual tradition, but still a trick I always look forward to.
The first weeper of the night had to be Dance With My Father, the song that Marx co-wrote with the late Luther Vandross (and which would become the final song the R&B legend sang before his death.) If you didn't tear up during Marx's storytelling of the tale behind the tune, you need to check your vital signs. It might have been the only time of the night where Kleenex concessions overshadowed liquor sales. (Seriously, who gets smashed before a Richard Marx concert? Pace yourself, people.)
Other rarities in Saturday's set: His performance of Keith Urban's Long Hot Summer (written by Marx), This I Promise You (his tune written for NSync), The One That Got Away (by Katy Perry, which he rearranged as a ballad with strings) and even a short take on Rick Springfield's Jesse's Girl.
Sure, Marx saved some of the best for last, including Hold On to the Night, Don't Mean Nothing and finally ending with Right Here Waiting. But if you were just at the Capitol for the hits, you missed the real magic of Marx. Thankfully, he'll be back again in February for another gig. This I promise you: Longtime fan or just now a curious one, you won't want to miss it.