Written by David Clements
Jan 07, 2012 at 12:00 AM
ImageHappy New Year to all my Houston Music Review followers.  This next year promises to be another great one full of many great performances in our area so stay tuned.

Last evening got things started off with a bang.  The Arena Theatre was host to Richard Marx and Peter Cetera.  Sadly, too few fans were in attendance.  This venue holds 2800 and there were over 2000 empty seats.

The first performer, Richard Marx, took the stage and his energy was immediately felt.    I thought he would be okay,  but Wow!  He stole the show before the night’s second performer, Peter Cetera, even got up to bat.  Marx was personable, very engaging and still has those strong vocals.  He strapped on his acoustic guitar and put himself right out there.  He is small in stature but commanded the audience’s attention in a decidedly larger than life way..

At nearly every concert there is always some idiot in the audience calling for ‘Free Bird’ and this was no exception.  Marx, however, put him right in his place.  Add that to his beautiful songs and he won me over.  As for my wife, who was sitting next to me,  she was obviously hooked from the moment he walked on to the stage.  It appeared at times that she might have forgotten I was sitting next to her.  And it seemed every other guy  I could see was experiencing the same thing.  Sheesh!

There is no missing that Richard Marx is a hit with the ladies.  In fact, as he launched into some of his signature songs like Right Here Waiting, Hold Onto the Night, and Now and Forever, he joked that these ‘pussy songs’ had afforded him the home and lifestyle he and his family now enjoy!

ImageMy sense is that Marx is a terrific ‘family man’.  His wife, Cynthia Rhodes was a dancer/ actress in the 80’s featured in the films  Dirty Dancing and Staying Alive, among others.  Her job for the last several years has been raising their 3 sons, now in their late teens and early 20’s.  All three sons are talented musicians and were showcased in a video that Marx played along to live.  One son was featured playing solo piano, another on drums, and the third on guitar.  This was a very well done and unique presentation and served to show us another facet of this very entertaining performer.

The bar was set high for Peter Cetera, the night’s second and final performer.  And the deck is always somewhat stacked against him as he strives to highlight his solo success and separate himself from his fame as THE original voice of the iconic group Chicago.  Adding to that, Cetera was very slow, too slow, to take the stage after the break.  That said, once Peter Cetera and his 7 piece band came on to the rotating Arena stage, it was clear we would not be disappointed.  Cetera’s smooth, distinctive voice launched into classic solo hits like Glory of Love,  After All, Endless Summer Nights and You’re the Inspiration.

There is an almost 20 year age difference between these two performers and that became evident while watching Cetera go through his set.  He gave a mature, highly polished performance.  He knows how to strut and posture for the fans.  Marx by contrast comes across as a more natural, seemingly effortless performer.

And so we enjoyed a night of familiar and favorite hits by two talented, diverse, and gracious musicians.  What more could we ask for?  A few more fellow audience members perhaps but those in attendance saw a first rate show.  Yes, 2012 is off and running on a beautiful note!