Arriving at the Palais Theatre on Saturday the 4th of March, I was surprised to see large queues of passionate fans that were keen to get into the heritage listed theatre. I was puzzled with the urgency from fans to rush in, as Palais Theatre is an entirely seated venue. But 5 years is a long time between dance cards, no matter which way you look at it.
That was the last time Richard Marx played at the Palais Theatre, and after a long wait, Marx would within hours take to the Melbourne stage again as part of ‘The Songwriter Tour’.
In the foyer there was a massive line to get merchandise which consisted of Richard Marx tour apparel. It was packed, busy, and I couldn’t make it to the merchandise table to see clearly on whether there were tour dates or not. The venue was buzzing with patrons excited to see this incredible musician perform.
If you didn’t know who Richard Marx was before, the video montage of Marx’s achievements at the beginning of the concert made sure that you did. In the audience, there were many die-hard fans that were proudly wearing their own fan made shirts. There were young attendees seeing Richard Marx for the first time, and for some, this would be their very first concert. Others were fans who had followed Marx all their lives, crushed on him in their teenage years, looked up to him, folks that knew all the words, and then there was me.
My own Richard Marx journey had me listening to his music when I was a kid. I genuinely adored his songwriting, even noticing*NSYNC song ‘This I Promise You’ sounding strangely like his music, and then flipping over on my CD to read the credits and discovering the reason the song sounded like Richard Marx was because he wrote it.
I also performed solo ‘Right Here Waiting’ at my high school talent show. I knew that it was a beautiful and precious song that suited my voice and emitted the attitude that I wanted to convey. While I am by no means a performer and much happier on the other side of the stage clapping in my seat, I’ve always adored live music and have loved Richard Marx’s songs. So, yes, not only was the title of the tour extremely fitting, but I was sincerely delighted to be witnessing one of my favourite songwriters, and arguably one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
With many Australian friends in the entertainment industry, and even some on stage with him, it is no surprise that when Richard Marx finally took to the stage, that he pronounced ‘Melbourne’ correctly. Opening with ‘Believe in Me’, it wasn’t long before fans were on their feet, dancing and singing along to some of Marx’s finest work including ‘Endless Summer Nights’, ‘Hazard’ and ‘Angelia’. He even performed ‘This I Promise You’ and put his own rock spin on it which I loved.
Marx doesn’t have any bad songs, but I must admit some gems shined more than others that night. ‘Same Heartbreak, Different Day’ was catchy as hell, ‘When You Loved Me’ was gorgeous, sharing with the audience the musical talents of his three sons Brandon, Lucas, and Jesse, all musicians in their own right. While not in person, Marx performed with his sons via recorded video footage of them in the studio, which accompanied him as he played live, and it sounded amazing.
Now, I’m a sucker for ballads, so I adored when Marx sat alone on a chair and only equipped with an acoustic guitar to serenade the Melbourne audience to songs, ‘Hold On to the Nights’ and ‘Now On Forever’, displaying his phenomenal vocals. I daresay, he sounds even better live than he does on his records.
While the music was fantastic, what I loved about seeing Marx live was discovering just how unfiltered, raw, real, relatable, cheeky, and funny he is. I was pleased that he swore just as much as I normally do, and it’s incredible how charming he was. Richard Marx effortlessly captivated the Melbourne audience with his stories and humour, just as much as he did with his music. I also loved how thankful and humble he was.
Throughout the concert, Richard Marx was beaming when fans would sing along in tune to his music, even to the point of cheering them and sharing that if this were The Voice, his chair would be spinning around for them. Marx even encouraged fans to get up and dance, which fans took as an invitation to dance in the aisles and come closer to the stage. When the fans got closer, Marx’s smile grew even bigger and he was so happy to interact with them.
In what was a completely different narrative, I witnessed a constant battle between venue staff, security, and fans. I watched as the aisles were cleared and then again with Marx’s encouragement, filled again. In the end the fans won, holding firm in their newfound positions to dance to fittingly titled songs, ‘Satisfied’ and ‘Should’ve Known Better’.
With any other artist, ending the show with a ballad would be absurd. But considering how ‘Right Here Waiting’ is Richard Marx’s biggest hit, the song that also single-handedly drew me to his music, it was only fitting for Marx to end the Melbourne concert with this beautiful song and his stunning voice one more time. And the best part was, in that moment, not only was Marx serenading his devoted audience, but they (and me), were serenading him right back.
I rushed out of my seat right away hoping for another chance to view the merchandise, but with my legs not stopping, I read as I was walking out a sign at an empty desk that stated all tour merchandise had sold out. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. But I shouldn’t have been surprised, much like his merchandise that night, his Melbourne show, and the entire Australian tour had completely sold out.
I’m hoping that it isn’t too long until Richard Marx returns to Australia again. From what I experienced, a theatre venue is not fitting anymore as so many fans shared with me that they had more friends that wanted to attend but couldn’t because shows were sold out. There were also so many wanted to get up and dance.
I believe that Marx would be more suited to venues like The Forum with optional seating, or Margaret Court Arena which provides both dance space and seats, so the best of both worlds. The last thing anyone should be experiencing is someone telling you off when you have paid to have fun and see one of your favourite music artists.
While I cannot even recommend buying a concert ticket as the entire ‘Songwriter Tour’ is sold out in Australia, you can still support Richard Marx by listening to his music, especially his thirteenth studio album ‘Songwriter’ which was released last year. At the end of the day, I am so grateful that I finally got to tick Richard Marx off my concert bucket-list. It was an honour to see him perform live and I hope I get to do it again soon (and get a shirt, I’m still sad about that).
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Photography by Grant Alexander.