Last time Richard Marx was in Australia I was a newlywed. This blog didn’t exist, and I was working for a software company rather than myself. It’s hard to believe all of that was 10 years ago, especially when looking at the ageless 80s pop-rocker last Friday night, but as I’ve consulted Google it’s all true.

Last time around Richard was solo and acoustic, so I was excited to see him with a full band this time around. But before all that, Matt Cornell treated us with his musical stylings. I really appreciated his laidback blend of country and folk music. He’s such a talented songwriter, and honing in on his lyrics helped me truly appreciate what he was all about. I’m not sure he was the right fit for this crowd though. They seemed restless and so many of them chatted through his performance. Perhaps on a night sold on nostalgia, something more familiar would have been better received.

Or perhaps the crowd was just focused on the man they came to see, because they erupted for Richard Marx. “Endless Summer Nights” is the sort of song most artists would close with, but when you’ve had as many hits as Richard Marx you don’t need to keep anything in the tank. More smash singles followed, including “Take This Heart,” “Keep Coming Back,” and “Don’t Mean Nothing.” Richard informed us that he goes to enough shows to know what fans really want, and that new tracks would be kept to a minimum, to rapturous applause. I was thrilled to hear the new single “Last Thing I Wanted” though, a song which shows he still has a knack for crafting catchy tunes. He told us how thrilled he was that they’re playing it on stations that play Selena Gomez, when before he was only heard alongside artists like Bette Midler and Barry Manilow.

We all expected him to play “Hazard,” one of his biggest Australian hits. However, I’m not sure anyone anticipated Ronan Keating joining him on stage. I’m not sure the song really works as a duet, but the excitement Ronan’s appearance generated was something special. Personally, I was much more thrilled to see Jack Jones, the former singer of Southern Sons, on guitar for the night. I was in raptures when Richard told us he couldn’t let Jack go without hearing a little of “Lead Me to Water.” Jack’s voice sounds every bit as amazing as it did back in the day.

Another special moment came when Richard treated us to some of the many songs he’s written for other artists: the N*Sync song “This I Promise You,” Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father,” and Keith Urban’s “Long Hot Summer.” I didn’t realise Richard was behind these great songs, but hearing them sing them, it made perfect sense. I felt a little sorry for the folks who couldn’t quite hear when Richard became properly unplugged for “This I Promise You,” but honestly it was the best the audio sounded all night. The Enmore really has a lot to answer for in this regard. The performances of Richard and the band were on point all night, but the sound quality undermined their good work.

Poor sound quality aside, it’s impossible to have a bad night when you’re in the company of such a talented, giving musician treating you to so many fantastic songs. Hopefully he’s true to his word and doesn’t leave us waiting 10 years for the next visit.

Image source: own photos