Richard Marx makes memories in Munhall

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MUNHALL - Many "did you know?' moments elevated Thursday's Richard Marx concert in Munhall to the level of truly memorable.

Like, did you know Marx has written songs with Keith Urban and Burt Bacharach? The L.A. pop star sang two fine examples to a vastly appreciative, but not sold-out Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall crowd.

And did you know that's Marx singing the "all night" backing vocal responses in Lionel Richie's "All Night Long"? Marx suggested everyone remember that the next time they hear that song in a CVS drug store, continuing one of his many playful moments of banter with, "It's true ... you can look it up on Wikipedia."

Marx's two-hour-five-minute Munhall show — over by 9:25 p.m. with no opener — began with a video montage asserting his place in music history (did you know he's the only male artist whose first seven singles reached the Top-5 of the Billboard charts?)

Western Pennsylvania fans, skewing 50s-ish, turned up Thursday to hear those Marx hits, and he didn't disappoint, dusting off 1988's popular "Endless Summer Nights" early.

Looking sharp in a black vest over a white button-up dress shirt, Marx reminded everyone "I go to concerts, too."

Richard Marx rocked Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall on Thursday.
Richard Marx rocked Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall on Thursday.

Marx said that means he doesn't like concerts where the headliner mainly focuses on new songs. If he showed up at a U2 concert, for instance, and heard Bono say the band was playing a bunch of new songs, "I'd be like, really? ... Don't. Don't do that, Bono. Play 'Beautiful Day,'" Marx said with a gleaming smile.

"But I do have to do a couple new songs," Marx said, setting up the catchy, mid-tempo "Same Heartbreak, Different Day" from his new "Songwriter" album.

A few selections later came "Always," a lovely ballad co-written with the then 91-year-old Bacharach. With Marx at a piano, you could have heard a pin drop during "Always." Rising back to his feet at its conclusion, Marx expressed his deep gratitude for the crowd's generous response to an unfamiliar song.

Most of the time. Marx brandished a rhythm guitar, backed by three musicians including his drummer of 30 years, Herman Matthews, who's also played with Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal. There were only a few moments of sizzle from the band, as Matthews kept the beats light and flowing, letting Marx's impressive vocal range remain the focal point.

He sang strongly on "Angelia," the 1989 ballad Marx sportingly prefaced with video screen images showing a few of his mullets from the MTV era. His hair is much tidier now, but no less enviable.

"Here's a song from my 'Repeat Offender' album, back in 1912," he joked, as he and lead guitarist Jay Blynn did a pleasurable, stripped-down, acoustic version of "Too Late to Say Goodbye."

The laughter continued, as Marx poked fun at a concert cliche, vowing to do two of his chart-toppers back-to-back, as he implored the crowd, "If you know these ones, please DON'T sing along, because you'll ruin it." With that, he played the opening chords of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," (no, Marx didn't write that one) before settling into "Hold Onto The Nights." For the final verse, he said, "It's all you, my friends," pointing his microphone at the audience, which sang it loudly and rather well.

Marx reached and held an amazing, acrobatic note late in "Now and Forever."

Richard Marx headlined Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall.
Richard Marx headlined Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall.

His voice sounded flawless all evening, mustering a bit of emotional grit when required.

"How many of you like country songs? Good, because we're going to play a jazz one," he wisecracked as the band tore into Urban's pop-country tune "Long Hot Summer," co-written by Marx.

Marx toasted the crowd with a martini glass, but also sipped from his favorite throat replenisher: a cocktail of lemon juice layered with crushed ginger, honey and a whole bunch of cayenne. In a panic once, four hours before a Milwaukee show, a sore-throated Bryan Adams texted Marx and asked for that special recipe. Marx said he gave the directions to Adams but forgot to tell the "Summer of '69" singer he should take small sips of it, rather than drinking it down whole, which works more like a digestive system cleanse. The Munhall crowd laughed, likely wondering how Adams' show had gone that night.

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Hitting the homestretch, lead guitarist Blynn shared lead vocals on a garage-y rock tune.

The audience again sang along loudly to 1987's "Should've Known Better."

The four-song encore ended with Marx's two biggies; first "Don't Mean Nothin'," that bitter-but-fun jab at the shady showbiz industry. He nailed the quick-rising high vocal climbs on each "don't mean noth-ING."

As he headed back to the piano, a sizable number of the 750 or so spectators hoisted their smartphones, ready to snap video of Marx letting loose with that voice once more for the still-lovely ballad "Wherever You Go." Marx sang it strongly and granted grateful fans a final chance to sing half a verse themselves.

In case you didn't know, Marx remains a headliner atop his game.

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Scott Tady is entertainment editor at The Times and easy to reach at

This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Pop star Richard Marx makes memories in Munhall