Years after he topped the charts with a string of pop hits in the 1980s and 1990s, singer Richard Marx mentioned that one thing has remained the same as in those whirlwind days of superstardom.
“Amazingly, women still throw their underwear on to the stage,” Marx said, speaking by phone from Chicago while on business just before his current solo tour began. “It’s just that, these days, they’re Depends.”
Marx, 56, brings his music and mirth to a solo acoustic show at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Brown County Music Center, 200 Maple Leaf Boulevard in Nashville. His ex-MTV veejay wife Daisy Fuentes, will make the trip, as she often does these days on his tours.
He still boasts strong vocals that sound as sharp as during his heyday, according to online video clips. But now the Grammy winner has added a terrific sense of comic storytelling to his set list filled with Top 10 tunes. On last year’s tours, he included such well-known songs such as “Don’t Mean Nothin’,” “Endless Summer Nights,” “Hold On to the Nights,” and “Right Here Waiting for You.”
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At one performance a few years ago, he brought actor and singer Hugh Jackman to the stage for a duet of that last number, changing the last line to “right here waiting for Hugh.”
Clearly, he’s still having fun with his audience — including his travel time. A few months ago, a middle-aged couple recognized him, apologized and stopped him at the airport.
“We just wanted to thank you,” the pair told him. “Your song was our wedding song.”
“Which one was that?” he asked “’Should’ve Known Better’? They didn’t laugh.”
At shows in which women and others still shout that they love him, he sometimes has quipped, “I love you, too. But I do feel the need to see other people.”
He sees plenty of room for humor at the local concert billed as “a night of love songs.”
“What’s funnier than relationships?” he asked. “That’s a deep well of material there, not just with songs but with life experience.”
He chuckled about his own music making him something of a Romeo of Romance in pop circles of the past.
“That doesn’t mean I take that concept very seriously,” he said.
And he loves weaving lighter impromptu comments in between songs.
“I never really felt like a storyteller (early on),” he said “I think maybe that comes partly with age. But it has changed the whole dynamic of performing for me.”
He hopes to include at least a few songs from his new disc titled “Limitless” to be released Feb. 7. It marks his first package of new material in six years. And, with the help of a synchronized video screen behind him, he will croon with his three musical sons, whom he refers to as “the Marx Brothers.” The song “When You Loved Me” often is listed as THE concert highlight by fans posting online comments after a performance.
“I don’t think I have ever done that song and not gotten a standing ovation,” he said. “I’m obviously proud of the song. But that (response) is really due just to them. It’s a pretty special thing.”
They also have performed live with him a few times. So the guy who once was a major heartthrob and hitmaker is an understandably proud parent — and a more relaxed artist no longer concerned about his long-term impact.
“I have no lofty goals anymore,” he said.
Other than maybe hearing the joy and laughter of his audience.
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Who: Pop singer Richard Marx in a solo acoustic show of hits from the past and some newer material
When: 7:30 Feb. 12
Where: Brown County Music Center, 200 Maple Leaf Boulevard in Nashville.
Tickets: $25 and up, available at ticketmaster.com