Richard Marx @ The Gallo Center for the Performing Arts, Modesto CA 09/30/15

I can’t believe how great this show turned out. I surprised wifey with tickets to see one of her girlhood heartthrobs. If you were a child of the 90s (or an adult for that matter), you had to have been exposed at some point to the pop powerhouse that is Richard Marx. Pure sounding tenor voice with a lot of heart and just a bit of raspiness that made the chicks melt. Romance and sappiness aside, the man writes some amazing music and not just his own songs (he’s written hits for Luther Vandros, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Josh Groban, Martini McBride…and what? Nsync???). We had no idea what we were in for, not having followed Marx for a number of years and I did no research for this brief tour he had scheduled. Little did we know that we would witness a one man show, Marx alone on acoustic guitar for the majority of the concert while taking breaks to perform piano on a handful of songs. It was a gem of a show and one of the best concerts we’ve ever attended. He performed at the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts in Modesto of all places. It seems like a very random city and venue to book. Modesto is a modest sized ville of 200,000. It’s an hour south of Sacramento, hour and 15 east of San Francisco. And wow is The Gallo a classy place, suited for refined performances, symphonies and play productions, and it was the perfect venue to host such a unique concert. I had the good fortune of scoring balcony box seats closest to the stage, which gave us this amazing diagonal view of Marx at work. We sat comfortably in big upholstered chairs with generous space and leg room, the only things missing were glasses of wine and chocolate. It was a mature crowd for the most part, people in their 40s and 50s, sprinkled with fans in their late 20s and 30s. There were few denim jeans in the crowd, mostly slacks, khakis and dresses, making for a somewhat formal affair, classy, just like the artist.

Marx was talkative, witty, joked with the crowd, interacted with us, and told us not to sing along at one point because we’d just “fuck up the song” lol. Plenty of story-telling and insight into the song writing and performing as well. At the end of “Hazard,” a guy from the orchestra area said “who killed her?” Marx sheepishly grinned and shrugged his shoulders, finally saying “I killed her” once he sat back at the piano. He added that a bell hop in a hotel once asked him “hey man, so who killed that chick?” lol. It was an up close and personal performance, one man at the front of an unadorned stage with a piano behind him. He sounded GREAT, richer and more dynamic than what’s on record, and clam-free. Well not so clam-free; to prove he was truly human there were a couple mess ups on guitar but it didn’t matter, that’s just part of the wonder and authenticity of a live performance. He was having a good time and it was as if he was playing in his living room to a bunch of friends. It was THAT intimate and fun. Near the middle of the show he shared how he’d worked with numerous other artists and treated us to a piano version of “Dance With My Father” that really hit me deep. That’s the way to play it, piano only, with a great voice. Wow. Some other surprise performances included a rollicking version of Keith Urban’s co-written “Long Hot Summer,” Nsync’s “This I Promise You,” and teasers of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” Kenny Rogers’ “Crazy,” (did you know he co-wrote that?) and Maroon 5’s “Payphone.” Marx was awesome about “playing the songs you came to hear,” adding that you can only do so much of the new stuff, making a reference about his love for The Foo Fighters, explaining that a group like that can get away with playing so much new stuff so long as the favorites like Everlong and Times Like These are in there as well. Included was one or Marx’s original “Country” songs, a funny little tune called “How Can I Miss You (If You Won’t Go Away?).” There were some moments when we thought we would be let down by such stripped down arrangements. For example, Marx played the basic chords to “Hazard,” it was missing the distinctive keyboard hook. But the song still went over very well and convincingly, the same with “Angelia.” That song in particular was extra special. Marx said to the audience “ok for this next one we’re going to go truly unplugged,” and he pulled out his amp cord and walked up to the very front of the stage and played “Angelia” without a mic or his amplifier. You could hear a pin-drop in the theater, everyone shut up and just LISTENED. It was quieter of course without the amplification, but there was just enough natural volume and projection to still enjoy it. It was sweet. This was one of the best shows ever and very similar to Bryan Adams’ Bare Bones Tour, acoustic guitar and piano only, and a LOT of fun. The set was something like the following, most likely a bit out of order and maybe a couple incorrect songs.

  1. Endless Summer Nights
  2. Take This Heart
  3. Satisfied
  4. Keep Coming Back
  5. Hazard
  6. Not In Love
  7. Dance With My Father
  8. Long Hot Summer
  9. How Can I Miss You
  10. Angelia
  11. Hold On To The Nights
  12. Now And Forever
  13. The Way She Loves Me
  14. Should’ve Known Better
  15. Right Here Waiting
  16. When You Loved Me

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Posted on October 16, 2015, in Concerts: 2012 - Present, Richard Marx and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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