Sunday, 5 June 2011

And now, a segue into a sub-blog I like to call... Amateur Ear.

...A few years ago now, I decided that before I shuffle off this mortal coil (and I'm 32 now and God willing not about to begin that shuffle quite yet) I wanted to see my three favourite singer-songwriters perform live.

In no order of preference, as I love 'em all:

3. Thea Gilmore
Seen her live three or four times now and she rocked out each time, even when she was massively, massively pregnant! She falls into the indie folk-rock category if she falls into a category at all, and her music is intelligent, often barbed and more often than not, just beautiful. Case in point: December in New York.


Mainstream, on TOTP2 in 2003, 
first time I stumbled across Ms Gilmore while awaiting an episode of Buffy no less...

2. Beverley Craven
Saw her live about four years ago at my local theatre. She. Was. Supremely fantastic, talented and very funny too, which was wonderfully surprising.


Promise Me, old footage but timelessly beautiful song!

And then there's:

1. Richard Marx.


Sometimes we set ourselves ambitions, or goals, and in the back of our minds we think we know we'll never achieve them. And sometimes we're proven wrong. Which is a-l-w-a-y-s good.

Not sure how the love got in but somehow this guy's music got right under my skin. Yep. I think it started with 'Right Here Waiting' on a compilation tape and spread out to 'Hazard'. This was in the late 80s, early 90s when, let's be honest, my loyalties were still divided between Kylie, Jason, Craig McLachlan, The Beautiful South and... Big Fun.


Oh yeah. These guys.

Princes in pastel. (Hey, I was ten, you're allowed to be that musically fickle when you're a child.)

Then... in 1993 there was 'Silent Scream'. And 'Now and Forever'. And Richard Marx came back into people's consciousnesses over here.

I came by a tape of Paid Vacation -- think I bought it a couple of days before a family holiday to 'sunny' Exmoor.

image via

I fell head over heels over head over heels in musiclove. I played the album on a loop for hours days weeks months years and it still rocks my socks nineteen years later. I'm not sure when I decided on my musical ambition but it was some time back, and since then I had convinced myself that seeing Richard Marx live would never happen. These days it's all about Gaga, or Clapton, prominent artists whose shows are sold out in seconds (I'd imagine).

And then … flicking through the Metro one morning on the train into work I happened upon The Ad.

Yep. Richard Marx was coming to play live in London on 31st May*... AND I WAS GOING TO BE THERE, APOCALYPSE OR NONE!!!

The ticket rocked up a few days later, and on 31st May, I tipped up at the Royal Albert Hall for the last leg of Richard Marx's 'Stories to Tell' tour.

It was, without question, one of the best nights of my life. It's always a danger seeing one's idols live as there is always a margin for disappointment. Not so here. My expectations were exceeded -- Mr Marx rocked my socks yet again with a phenomenal setlist of acoustic tracks, some with string accompaniment, and then some with full band, and oh my word it was amazing. AMAZING. He played all the tracks the crowd would expect -- 'Hazard' (acoustic: haunting and beautiful!), 'Endless Summer Nights', 'Should Have Known Better' and, to my utter delight, 'The Way She Loves Me' from Paid Vacation! My teenage self, and my thirty-two year old self, were rocking out in tandem at this point.

I was reminded of why I'd chosen Richard Marx as a music idol all those years ago -- his voice is fantastic, just as strong and lyrical and edgy as it was over twenty years ago. He had fantastic banter with the audience, had some very funny anecdotes and some lovely ones about his family too -- the composite video of his three sons playing and singing the backing track to 'Save Me' was just too clever: a very talented family -- making the night perfect for the die-hard fans. His tribute to his father, through the song 'Through My Veins' actually had me in tears -- it was beautifully orchestrated, starting off with RM on the piano, then with the strings kicking in, then halfway through the full band joining in, and it was just... aaaah. Powerful and extremely moving.

 ...And yep, he finished on 'Right Here Waiting'.

Musical perfection.

I can watch this recording from last week and still have the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, no joshing. 

I was on such a high leaving the venue afterwards -- I had my gig t-shirt and was completely wired... I tweeted manically on the way home about how much I'd loved the gig and also how I was one of the die-hard fans who did own a copy of his album My Own Best Enemy -- there's a completely breathtaking, high-energy track called 'Colder' on the album that propels me along on a power-walk like no other tune can.

...And to add to all of this, RICHARD MARX RETWEETED ME THE NEXT DAY!

It's the little things.

I fell in musiclove all over again. And a little bit of lovelove as well.


* again: somehow I'd missed him playing at Shepherds Bush last year -- how?!?!?! Epic Fan Fail.

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