Marky Mark didn’t rest on his pectorals.
Instead, the muscular 21-year-old rapper and – let’s face it, this is what sold tickets – Calvin Klein underwear pitchman saved a peek at his pecs until Sunday night’s finale.
So for virtually all of Marky’s show at Images Entertainment Complex in Springfield, several hundred screaming teenage girls (despite their between-song pleas of “Take your shirt off!”) watched Marky rap.
Joined by a trio of rappers/dancers called the Funky Bunch and a half-dozen other onstage hangers-on, Marky offered a sweaty, energetic performance. Although the show lasted only 45 minutes, no one could fault Marky’s enthusiasm.
And there was reason to be skeptical about Marky’s attitude Sunday. His second and most recent album, “You Gotta Believe,” nosedived after a brief appearance on the Billboard charts, and his future endeavors probably include more photo than recording sessions.
Yet, Marky appeared to have no qualms about entertaining an all-ages crowd at an alcohol-free central Illinois nightspot. He seemed at ease with his teenybopper status — “Yo, Springfield,” Marky said by way of introduction, “how you been livin’?” — and clearly enjoyed tossing G-rated, streetwise raps at the audience.
He used a live drummer on several songs, giving a significant boost to the concert’s atmosphere that his taped instrumentals couldn’t provide. (His dismal experiment with reggae-flavored rap at least showed a desire to broaden rap’s horizons, following the lead of Shabba Ranks.)
Marky’s song titles – “Gonna Have A Good Time,” “You Gotta Believe” and “Loungin’ ” – generally reflect the raps’ lyrical wisdom. “Wildside,” from his 1991 debut release and million-seller “Music For the People,” offers anti-drug tales while lifting samples from Lou Reed’s “Walk on The Wild Side.” And Marky left the stage Sunday, shouting “Educate the young.”
Regardless of having the correct sentiments, Marky’s still a so-so rapper who’s bound to conclude his career as a one-hit wonder.
Ah, but what a hit it is.
Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block fame molded his younger brother’s career by producing Marky’s material, including the dance gem “Good Vibrations.” It includes the most dance-happy sample ever, a slice of Loleatta Holloway’s 1980 single “Love Sensation.”
That song sent the crowd into an arm-waving, sing-along frenzy. Before this final number started, Marky ditched his nerdy stripped shirt and baseball cap to highlight his body by Nautilus and a portion of his briefs sticking out of his pants.
Overzealous fans caused some concertgoers to be pressed against a barricade in front of the stage, keeping Images’ large security staff busy and causing a few youngsters to be carried to the club’s rear for a breather.
Still, Marky’s show was the first national touring act presentation at the club and, aside from lengthy security checks at the door (which caused fans to stand in the chilly outdoors far too long), Images is a suitably large and well-run facility for concerts.