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On Jan. 27th, Rick Springfield and Richard Marx Made DPAC Patrons Feel Like Family

Last Friday night, 1980s musical icons Rick Springfield & Richard Marx played for a few thousand of their closest fans at the Durham Performing Arts Center, and made them feel like family. Both artists, accustomed to large stadium tours, seemed to enjoy the intimacy of this musically stripped-down show; and they spent the evening telling stories, making jokes, and showing family pictures between songs.

The two opened the show singing Marx’s hit, “Endless Summer Nights,” with Springfield adding a subtle depth to the harmonies. In 1988, the lyric “Summer came and left without a warning” seemed to be about the end of a romance; but in 2017, sitting in a crowd of people halfway through their lives, it seemed to be about something more; and it set the tone for the evening.

The two men clearly enjoy each other’s company, and have a great chemistry. They entertained the crowd with their back-and-forth bantering. After singing Rick Springfield’s “Affair of the Heart,” which — when sung with acoustic accompaniment — becomes even more sexually charged than the radio version, Springfield remarked, “It feels a little odd singing, ‘when we make love it’s a passionate thing,’ with Richard sitting there.” Not missing a beat Marx joked, “Well, we did meet on Grinder, ….”

Springfield left the stage; and Richard Marx, a famed balladeer, performed some of his greatest hits, accompanying himself on guitar and piano. This refinement of sound showcases Marx’s voice, which might actually be better now than it was in the Eighties. Encouraging the crowd to mimic his vocals, Marx was astounded when the audience returned the musical runs in tune! “You guys have no idea how f*cking great you are!”

The highlight of Marx’s show might have been “Only You Can Save Me,” a song he sang against the video screen, with his sons playing and singing backup for him. If that song was any indication, we will all be hearing much more from the talented Marx brothers.

Rick Springfield, a consummate showman, came back to the stage to thunderous applause and started his set by telling the crowd how he came to be a musician after flunking out of high school — “A public school that takes anyone!” Springfield quickly landed a job in a local Blues band. “And who better to interpret the nature of the Blues than a middle-class white kid from Australia?” he quipped.

Self-deprecation aside, Springfield plays the dobro like he has seen some sh*t; and he has a rawness to his voice that lends itself well to the genre. Springfield’s show is a one-man performance, but not entirely acoustic. He accompanies himself on tracks that he plays from a laptop when the song calls for a more layered sound. Pointing to his computer, he said, “I’m going drinking with the guys in the band after the show, so if you run into the drummer, do not go home with that guy!”

Despite his reputation as a pop idol, Rick Springfield is one of the guitar greats and plays complex arpeggios like a master. While his musicality never fails to impress, it is his humanity that inspires his loyal fans. Springfield, who lost his father as his career was beginning to take off and his mother only a few weeks ago, was visibly shaken talking about her and singing the song he wrote in her honor titled, “Four Billion Heartbeats.”: “No one was made of stronger stuff … believed I could weather a storm this rough … four billion heartbeats still weren’t enough ….”

Springfield followed his emotional tribute to his parents with his hit, “Human Touch,” which sent him into the crowd collecting hugs and taking selfies with his delighted fans. With the party atmosphere restored, he sang a very clever mashup of “Jessie’s Girl,” “Stacey’s Mom,” and “867-5308” inspired by a popular T-shirt that reads, “What if Jessie’s girl was really Stacey’s mom and her number was 867-5309.” The crowd had a good chuckle when he messed up the lyric and sang, “I’m in love with Jessie’s Mom,” but after all these years, Jessie’s girl might indeed have a son named after dad.

Rick Springfield and Richard Marx finished the show with another duet; and then with drinks in their hands, toasted the crowd: “This is a great little city and you guys have just been the coolest audience!”

Same … you beloved 1980s heartthrobs … same.

RICK SPRINGFIELD & RICHARD MARX (Durham Performing Arts Center, Jan. 27).

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Rick Springfield (Australian singer/songwriter, nee Richard Lewis Springthorpe): (official website), (An Affair of the Heart documentary), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), (Wikipedia), and (YouTube).

Richard Marx (Chicago singer/songwriter, nee Richard Noel Marx): (official website), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), (Wikipedia), and (YouTube).



Nicole Noel is a former U.S. Army journalist-turned-Technical Knowledge Manger, with a love for the arts. At age seven, she wrote her first story on the wall of her basement after being told the family might have to move: “There once was a girl named Nicole who had a dog named Rat and they lived in this house.” She liked the way that you could capture a moment in a sentence, and still does. These days Nicole lives with her daughter, and a dog named Buffy, in a house in Fuquay-Varina. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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