Richard Marx in El Dorado

Mark Givens @mseldorado does a great job snagging headliners who happen to be crossing @theMiddle, from one concert to another. We’ve enjoyed @willienelson and @Travistritt unplugged, just pared-down, soulful performances, which have been well-received by #eldorado audiences.  Givens pulled another coup by signing award-winning songwriter and performer @richardmarx to “christen” the newly renovated Municipal Auditorium.

A great night to celebrate–the auditorium, which previously carried a whiff of the institutional, joined the twenty-first century with smooth maple siding, curved to create a contemporary aesthetic and warm texture, along the walls.  Grid-type sound tiles on the ceiling, which, though functional, contributed to the freshened-up atmosphere, created perfect acoustics. The enlarged, updated lobby, still a work in progress, was exciting to see in process.

Without putting much headwork into it, I could identify three bona fide Marx songs, “Right Here Waiting for You,” “Hold On to the Night” and “I Will Be Your Man,” a long-time favorite of mine. When we heard Main Street had pulled Marx in, I wanted to see the concert based on those songs alone. But I was surprised to remember how many hits actually belonged to Marx, both as a performer and as a songwriter/collaborator. Not only was his music superb, he flat out gave a great show.

Marx connected well with an engaged, appreciative audience. He set us at ease with his self-deprecating manner, noting that audiences don’t come to concerts to hear obscure B-sides, back-tracks and exploratory new material by their much-loved performers; they want to hear the hits they know and love, hits that feature in treasured memories of bygone days, teen years, break-ups and anniversaries, both hard and happy times. Marx had a great sense of humor, both in giving to the audience and receiving the encouragement sent by individual (loving) catcalls and corporate applause and ovations.

With hometown pride, I’m always zealous that on our end the crowd gives as good a show as the performer. It’s not like entertainers have a secret room where they compare notes about audiences and towns (“Boy, was that audience dead in Des Moines or what? They definitely don’t need any Ambien”), but I’m anxious that our performers experience and lob back good will from an entertaining point of view. So it was particularly gratifying to me to see a smile curl up Marx’s lips when he held the microphone to the crowd to finish a lyrical phrase, or when he made a funny comment and someone matched him with a comical tidbit of audience love. It seemed as if Marx were naturally enjoying himself. [Besides big bucks, national awards and acclaim from the @HollywoodBowl to @carnegiehall], who could ask for more?

When Marx first started performing, I felt a tinge I always feel when a performer arrives in our town. Were performers accustomed to playing sold-out crowds in San Francisco or Miami? Has their popularity crested? Is it a downer to come into a town of under twenty thousand people, to find out there aren’t any bars open after the show, that the only place to get something to eat is a fast food chain? It is what it is. I hope they have a good day (which can be many things), rest well, and appreciate the charm of our downtown. Hey, they get paid. They’re professionals. I like to think some may appreciate the small-town vibe of the venue: negligible traffic, less crazies, so quiet you can hear the crickets sing.  Perhaps it’s an illusion to fancy we’re different from other handlers in other towns, but our townspeople are genuine. We certainly try. But maybe those performers come from little towns themselves, like @johnmellencamp and his “Small Town.” Since Marx hails from Chicago, that’s not the case with him. He seemed intellectually resonant enough to appreciate the good our town—or at least his audience—offered.

Marx joked about the joy of hearing one of his songs performed in between Lady Gaga and another contemporary group I can’t remember, as opposed to the “Oldies but Goodies” radio programs that more frequently play ‘80s and ‘90s hits these days. He laughed about how a “gorgeous young girl” recognized him, only to profess “My mother is a huge fan of yours.” He quipped about many aspects of his career, but his voice was strong; his delivery succinct. His tender lyrics and quixotic musical phrasing softened a willing audience, getting everyone in a ripe romantic mood. He shared some of his history, sensitively touched on events besieging the United States in July 2016, and performed “Dance with my Father,” the Grammy-winning song he co-wrote with Luther Vandross.

If there were a stock offering for Richard Marx, I’d say, “buy.” If there’s an upcoming Richard Marx concert nearby, I’d urge, “go.” This productive, intelligent man will be entertaining crowds for decades to come.

As for El Dorado, Givens announced Kevin Costner and band @modernwest July 22,

@amygrant Sept. 19, and @tanya_tucker in November.

#worththeshow #80s #90s #eldorado #eldofest  @TheGRAMMYs


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