Rick Springfield and Richard Marx, two huge Grammy-winning artists from the 80s, have continued to record and perform for enthusiastic audiences. In recent years they have each embarked on successful solo acoustic tours, so it only seemed natural that the longtime pals would jump at the chance when it was recently suggested that they hit the road together for a joint acoustic “storytellers” tour. When the tour rolled into the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham NC, Concert Addicts was there with the raucous Friday night crowd to take in the entertaining performance.
The evening started with Springfield and Marx walking out to a pared down stage-set that consisted of little more than two stools flanked by a few guitars and a piano. With big smiles, the duo picked up their guitars, and engaged the audience with a bit of welcoming conversation. Their humor was immediately evident as they referred to themselves as the two Dicks, and playfully dubbed the tour #dicksquared. With good natured laughter still rippling through the crowd, they launched into the Richard Marx hit “Endless Summer Nights,” followed by the Rick Springfield song “Affair of the Heart.” From there, Rick Springfield excused himself from the stage and left Richard Marx to carry on with a solo set.
Richard Marx has enjoyed an illustrious career that has spanned almost three decades. He is a Grammy winning singer, songwriter, and producer with a long list of hit songs. Sitting alone on the stage telling stories and playing stripped down acoustic versions of his hit songs really focused attention on his skill as a songwriter. Hits like the early set performance of “Satisfied” retained its driving hook-laden appeal, while others were given a new perspective. Between songs Marx, told stories that were engaging and at times hilarious. Prior to playing “Hazard,” he discussed wanting to create a song that was a murder mystery set to music. Faced with telling his story in four minutes, he worked to create a plot, a setting, and characters… And the more he worked on it, the more he realized it was the biggest piece of shit he had ever written. But he really loved the music so he just put it on the album… And six months later the song was number one in 14 different countries. Marx continued his set with the same pattern of entertaining stories and crowd interaction in-between playing his chart-topping hits including, “Hold On To The Nights,” “Angelia,” “Should Have Known Better,” and the number one Country hit written for Keith Urban, “Long Hot Summer.” With the crowd roaring its approval, he stood up, and took his bows, and left the stage to Rick Springfield for the second solo set of the evening.
After a short break, the stage went dark and a video screen lit up with a light-hearted montage of Rick Springfield’s accomplishments and pop star highlights, including snippets of his music videos, awards, TV appearances, and his stint as an actor playing Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. As the video finished, out walked Springfield to follow the template laid down by Richard Marx… An acoustic set of hits combined with stories, both humorous and heartwarming. Rick Springfield was charismatic and charming from the start. Like Marx, he told stories that brought the audience into his songs, including an enthralling tale of being a young teenager in Australia travelling to Vietnam with one of his first bands to play for the troops. He then played his big number from that time, a sizzling cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.” He also played a cover of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” that showed his versatility and Blues chops, because as he jokingly stated, “Who better to represent the blues than a young white teenager from Australia.” The set also covered the requisite hits including, “Love Is Alright Tonite,” “Human Touch,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” and a hilarious mash-up of “Jessie’s Girl / Stacy’s Mom / 867-5309.” Toward the end of the set the party vibe screeched to a halt as Rick told of the very recent passing of his Mother and he played “4 Billion Heartbeats,” written for his Mother and “My Father’s Chair,” written for his deceased Father. Springfield finished the songs clearly emotional and teary-eyed. I suspect many audience members were a bit teary-eyed as well. With the mood at a somber low, somehow he managed to pick himself and the crowd right back up with the hilarious song “If Wishes Were Fishes,” before closing with a story about taking a stained glass making class and a classmate who caught his fancy. That woman would be immortalized in song as the inspiration behind arguably his biggest hit, “Jessie’s Girl,” which closed out the set.
Before calling it a night, Richard Marx came back out and the duo brought the show full circle by playing a few more songs together, kicking off with a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby.” They each took turns playing a song from each of their own catalogs as a duo before ending the evening with the Beatles’ “All my lovin’.”
Both Springfield and Marx are consummate showmen, brilliant songwriters, and talented musicians. They delivered an incredibly engaging, and ultimately fun, evening of songs, stories, and comedy. It was the perfect way to kick off a weekend… Hell, it was a great night out no matter what the day!