A Night Out With Friends
Originally broadcast as part of the PBS: Front Row Centre concert series, A Night Out With Friends is a Richard Marx live DVD. That’s both description and warning. And for the sadists who walk among us there’s a version that comes with a highlights/hits CD.
It gets pretty comical when the friends start turning up – two songs with Hugh Jackman.
Before that it’s very earnest and it takes on the tone of the MTV Unplugged shows from two decades ago – crossed with a high school music recital-turned-individual artist showcase.
In fact Marx, and clearly he has some talent, some of the songs have hooks, he can play he can sing, seems like a school parent you might meet at a sports event; perhaps your kids are friends, in the same team. Anyway, you make the mistake of agreeing to drop over after the game and he whisks you down to the man-cave and plays you three hours of his songs from “another lifetime/my pop star life”.
And that’s when you realise – almost instantly that these songs don’t really have hooks at all. They are bloodless ballads. In the world of elevator music these are the farts you walk in on just after someone gets out on the ground floor.
You’re quiet in the man-cave. And he’s telling you to relax, he’s just tuning up. Won’t be long…
After two songs of nodding and smiling politely you realise you might not get out alive.
By the time he gets to Save Me you’re thinking the very same thing. On to Better Life and you’re thinking that’s what you used to have.
You look at the walls of the man-cave, they’re lined with framed photos of Marx’s face – a cold, dead-behind-the-eyes stare causes you to shiver. There are 40 of these photographs. They line the walls. You look closer. It’s the same shot. Black’n’white. The eyes are just white round circles. You know now that school where this odyssey started is nowhere near. There aren’t any pupils. Is this the Twilight Zone?
You are not getting out of this man-cave. You’re not. No chance. Your head is about to be scooped out, and using your ears as trophy handles Marx will drink your blood from your head.
You realise that he has in fact been Right Here Waiting For You.
And just then, just as he puts down his acoustic guitar and walks toward you with a single broken string, you realise that you can’t get away as he is about to strangle you, about to slice right through your neck and take the head clean off. You’re running as fast as you can but the sheepskin rug has morphed into quicksand and you’re like the girl trapped in the TV in the movie-version of The Twilight Zone.
And then you wake up. And realise you’ve nodded off in front of a Richard Marx DVD. And you wake with a cough, instinctively checking your throat – making sure, in that first instant that it is in fact there. And then you can breathe again. And be at peace because thankfully your version of this brand new Richard Marx live concert DVD did not include the CD too.