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ConcertsRichard Marx + John Parr at Birmingham Symphony Hall 05/26/11

Posted on Thursday, June 02 2011 @ 12:20:44 CDT by Dean Pedley
Concert Reviews

A first tour of the UK for some twenty years from AOR legend Richard Marx was always going to be special and so it proved to be as the singer-songwriter gave a sparkling performance at Birmingham's Symphony Hall with a two hour set that revisited the many highlights from his back catalogue together with some new music. Support was provided by John Parr, best known for his 80's mega hit "St Elmo's Fire", and who due to lengthy litigation proceedings has been unable to record for the best part of two decades which effectively bought his promising career to a shuddering halt.

Parr's thirty minute slot, consisting of just the man himself and an acoustic guitar, is an entertaining warm-up for the main attraction. Genial and engaging throughout he introduces the songs with the stories surrounding their origins and the point in his life during which they were written. "Naughty, Naughty" and "St Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" are warmly received together with Parr's recollection of the songs true inspiration – that of Canadian athlete Rick Hansen and his global travels in his wheelchair to raise both funds and awareness for spinal cord injuries. With Parr still sporting a fetching mullet this was real throwback to the 1980's and a welcome reminder of his undoubted talent.

The mullet –less Richard Marx is greeted like a long lost friend by the Birmingham crowd as he eases into the sentimental "Endless Summer Nights". With only occasional piano accompaniment Marx takes us through the highlights of his career both as a performer and songwriter for other artists and proves to be an entertaining raconteur. He prefaces "Hazard" with the story of how he never intended to release the song only to be persuaded otherwise by wife Cynthia...and a few months later it was a worldwide number one. The family references continue with the touching "Through My Veins" dedicated to his late father and new song "Save Me" is delivered in tandem with a video screen performance featuring his three sons. Marx then gives a new meaning to the term "unplugged" as he steps into the aisle and heads into the crowd for "Always on my Mind" and you can literally hear a pin drop. John Parr reappears for "Like Brothers", a song they had apparently written three hours before the show and as Marx continues with the likes of "Angelia", "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Should've Known Better" you appreciate just how many great songs he has written. The rapturous reception increases through encores of "The Way She Loves Me" and "Right Here Waiting" and as Marx takes his leave it is clear this has been a triumphant return and one which has more than made up for his lengthy absence.

Reviewed by Dean Pedley


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