There are great songwriters and then there are artists who write great songs.
And, if they’re lucky, they’re one of the few who can marry the two and make a lasting impact in music. Richard Marx is one of the lucky ones who have dazzled us with his talent for more than four decades. Marx has sold more than 30 million albums and has landed a No. 1 song in each of the past four decades, either as a writer or artist, with 14 chart-toppers in all.
You can imagine the joy I felt when his current tour was coming to the area. Last weekend, Marx performed before a sold-out venue at Blue Gate Performing Arts Center in Shipshewana, Ind. The singer performed solo, with only his guitar and piano. The setting was intimate, making the night even more special.
The show opened with new tracks “Believe In Me” and “Front Row Seat,” from the latest album, "Songwriter." Although they were received well by the audience, Marx quickly said, “I know when I go to show, I want to hear the songs I already know.” He then invited people to shout requests.
Popular favorites “Too Late For Goodbyes” and “Keep Coming Back” followed, sounding as good today as they did in the 1990s, when they dominated the chart.
I was impressed with his stage presence and how good he sounds. That isn’t always the case with artists still on the road. But, at 59, he was impressive.
“Songwriter” contains a slew of new tracks featuring a number of guest artists including Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Chris Daughtry, David Hodges and Randy Houser. Marx talked of the songs he wrote for Urban, including “Long Hot Summer” and “Better Day” – and he teased the audience with samples. But, it was some of the other tracks and collaborations he chose to feature at the show, including “Same Heartbreak, Different Day,” which he co-wrote with his son Brandon.
The night went to an extra level for me when he performed “Hazard.” That’s of my all-time favorite Marx tracks and in the Blue Gate setting, it was magical. The lyrics paint a compelling story and his delivery was spot-on. Chills!
“Hold On To The Nights” received positive response as did “Endless Summer Nights,” “Satisfied” and the beautiful “Now And Forever.” The songs proved to be the perfect interlude to his new song “Always,” which he penned for his wife, Daisy Fuentes.
Some audience members seemed to be surprised Marx also has written tracks for NSYNC and Luther Vandross, and he performed “This I Promise You” and the 2004 Grammy-winning Song of the Year “Dance With My Father.” Again, another thrilling moment to witness live.
Staying at the piano, Marx played a gorgeous, slowed-down version of the pop classic “Fly Me To The Moon.” He was right when he said that in slowing the song’s tempo to learn the piano chords, the words seemed to have more feeling and depth.
The song that put him on the map, “It Don’t Mean Nothing,” was a highlight in a show full of highlights.
The encore was a massive treat and a fitting way to close a 90-minute trek down memory lane. Marx performed “Angelia,” “Should’ve Know Better” and his crowing jewel “Right Here Waiting.” He seemed to be moved by the many voices in the audience singing his words right back at him.
David T. Farr is a Journal correspondent. Email him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: Richard Marx performance features classic hits, fresh material