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Richard Marx

Artists: Richard Marx, Dandelion Head

Venue: Liverpool, Royal Philharmonic

Date: 18th May 2024

"Marx then took to the piano for a cover of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ before wrapping up the set with ‘Right Here Waiting’, which sadly meant his first solo hit ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’ was excluded tonight. However, I don’t think many left disappointed."


Photo of crowd

This was my first visit to the impressive Royal Philharmonic in Liverpool. The Art Deco auditorium seats approximately seventeen hundred and appeared to be close to capacity for this evening’s performance by the talented singer/songwriter, Richard Marx.

Support this evening had originally been advertised as Rumer; however, due to the serious illness of one her musicians (also her driver) the Pakistan-born, British singer-songwriter was forced to pull out. The £750 she was to get for the support slot was not going to cover travelling and hotel costs, plus the hiring of her backing band. The latter just goes to show how difficult it is for most people to make a sustainable living from music.

Dandelion Head

A last-minute replacement for Rumer came by way of Dandelion Head (aka Jason Blynn), who also happens to be the lead guitarist in Richard Marx’s band. The Aussie musician entered the stage dressed all in white, with just an acoustic guitar, as if he’d just stepped out of the seventies. The first thing that struck me was the beautiful, relaxing timbre of his vocals, perfectly suited to the laid-back Westcoast vibe songs he played.

The opening two songs ‘Love On Your Side’ and ‘Cave Dancer’ were taken from last year’s ‘Blue Dream’ opus, with ‘What The Hell’ and ‘I Am Nothing’ from his 2017 album ‘Yay Blynn’.

He joked with the audience that unlike most artists who come to Liverpool, he wasn’t going to play a cover song of The Beatles, a remark that Marx himself would reiterate later in the evening. He also jested about he would not keep going to keep us in a wall of depression and introspection. For an artist who would have been virtually unknown to most of the audience, he held our attention and entertained us royally for half-an-hour, and in doing so, will undoubtedly have garnered himself some more fans.


Richard Marx

After a short intermission, a five-minute video clip of famous people talking about Richard Marx preceded his entry on to the stage with his band, the aforementioned Jason Blynn on guitar, Whynot Jansveld on bass, and on Brain Griffin on drums. Opening song was ‘Believe In Me’ from his thirteenth studio album, 2022’s ‘Storyteller’.

I have to confess, although not a terrible sound, the mix was poor, with the snare drum too high and guitars too low. What was not any doubt, were the phenomenal vocals that Marx still possesses, still sounding as good as he did when I first saw him thirty-five years ago. He looks very trim, no grey hairs, although I think the colour is out of a bottle…

We didn’t have to wait long for one of the eighties classics with ‘Endless Summer Nights’, followed by ‘Take My Heart Away’. Three songs in Marx stopped to address the crowd with a long introduction. As mentioned, he promised not to play any Beatles’ songs but did put up a picture on the video screen, positioned behind the stage, of himself and his good friend, Fab Four drummer Ringo Starr. He followed it with a picture of himself circa 1989, and quote, “with a dead squirrel on my head.”

From the start I’d thought it rather strange that his band did not include a keyboard player, although there were keyboard backing tracks to be heard during the ballad ‘Angelia’. The rest was definitely played live, and the augmented keyboards actually improved the song as opposed to detracting from it. ‘Front Row Seat’ was accompanied with a video of Marx and his wife Daisy Fuentes. For ‘Only A Memory’, Marx dispensed with the guitar he’d been playing whilst singing up to that point.

Throughout the evening, Marx continually talked to the audience about his whole career and the people he’d met, written and performed with over the years, including the late, great Luther Vandross who sang backing vocals on ‘Keep Coming Back’. He also name-checked another incredible songwriter, Fee Waybill of The Tubes fame, who co-wrote several songs with Marx over the years. One of those was ‘Too Late To Say Goodbye’, which was performed tonight as an alternative version, Marx and Blynn only, as Marx thought it to be “too eighties”. Another musician has co-written and performed with over the years is Vertical Horizon’s Matt Scanlan; cue ‘When You Loved Me’.

Marx has three sons who he is ultra-proud of and has co-written songs with all of them individually, but for his sixtieth birthday he wanted to write a song with all three. ‘Days To Remember’ just took an hour to compose, and Marx played it tonight with his sons accompanying him on the video screen: Brandon (33) on guitar, Lucas (31) on piano, and Jessie (30) on drums. Whilst introducing the number one smash hit ‘I Promise You’ (Marx has had a staggering fourteen in his career to date) he wrote for boyband NSYNC, he started singing Justin Timberlake’s ‘Selfish’, a song lost on me, but not all in attendance, as this was not your archetypal Rock crowd, but a mixture of Rock and Pop fans, plus people who regularly visit the theatre. Although most were well behaved, some, including a couple sat near to my wife and me, showed no theatre etiquette whatsoever. Rock concert, or no Rock concert, good manners cost nothing.

Marx said how he got his big break sing backing vocals on Lionel Richie’s debut solo album, and he did so well, Richie kept asking him back. He joked that on the Soul singer’s big hit ‘All Night Long’, “It’s me you can hear on the refrain of the chorus, so next time you hear it…” A poignant part of the evening was the cover of Luther Vandross’ ‘Dance With My Father’, which the two co-wrote and was dedicated to a fan that Marx had met earlier in the day. It was one that brought a lump to my own throat. Lightening the mood and teasing the fans, Marx played snippets of Bon Jovi’s ‘Living On A Prayer’ and Mylie Cyrus’ ‘Flower’. The good-humoured Marx then said, “I’m going to play two songs that I think you’ll recognise, but don’t join in as you’ll ruin it!” Surprisingly, everybody refrained from adding their own inferior backing vocals to acoustic versions of ‘Hold On To The Nights’ and ‘Now And Forever’ until they were invited to by tonight’s host.

Bassist Jansveld had “Happy Birthday” sang to him before Marx invited Blynn to sing one of his own compositions ‘Long Way From Home’. Marx was extremely complimentary about his current band who he had first been introduced to by his friend and fellow American musician/songwriter Sara Bareilles. The main set was concluded with a raw version of ‘Satisfied’, which included lots of crowd participation.

There were still several classics not played, so an encore was inevitable. When the artists returned to the stage Marx asked for requests, and he did not mean the obvious songs. Had I been seated closer I would have shouted out for ‘Part Of Me’ from his 2008’s ‘Emotional Remains’; however, a fan did call out for ‘Over My Head’ from the same opus. Marx was impressed it was a deep cut and preceded to play it acoustically solo, citing that the rest of the band probably did not know that song.

Arguably, next came the highlight of the whole evening, and the two songs that everybody had been waiting to hear: ‘Hazard’, accompanied by the iconic video, and ‘Should’ve Known Better’. Marx then took to the piano for a cover of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ before wrapping up the set with ‘Right Here Waiting’, which sadly meant his first solo hit ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’ was excluded tonight. However, I don’t think many left disappointed.



Review: Mark Donnelly




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