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Mr. Big

Date: 2/20/15
Venue: BB King Blues Club, NYC
Report By: Rich Catino

Mr. Big came on to the hard rock/heavy metal map in the late 80s and luckily just in time to get a foot in the door with their self titled debut album. The single/MTV video ‘Addicted To That Rush’ (played on Headbangers Ball at the time) showcased the talents of former David Lee Roth bassists Billy Sheehan and Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert in a guitar/bass duel that Mr. Big could play in the big boys sandbox. This set the stage for the 1991 follow up “Lean Into It” and three hit singles; ‘Green-Tinted Sixties Mind, ballads ‘Just Take My Heart’ and who doesn’t know ‘To Be With You’. But, unfortunately, like everyone else from the genre, Mr. Big, while still persevering releasing two more albums in the 90s, and two with Richie Kotzen on guitar in the early 2000s (“Get Over It” and “Actual Size”), they also went on hiatus for 10 years, until “What If... “ in 2011 with Gilbert returning.

Since their return, Mr. Big doesn’t tour America often, they are more successful overseas and in Japan like many hard rock and metal bands (especially from the 80s). So tonight was a rarity and a treat, and the fans packed the place as a result. Eric Martin on vocals, guitarist Paul Gilbert, and Sheehan, are the returning original members with Matt Starr joining them on drums for Pat Torpey who unfortunately is unable to be active in the band having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But, as a special surprise, making the night even more special Pat was in the house jumping on drums and doing some tambourines on select songs.

The night’s set was balanced between and (to be expected) material from the first two albums, and more recent post reunion. ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’ (“Lean Into It” album) is rightfully so a solid opener getting the energy up on a high level. Other more recent rockers ‘Gotta Love The Ride’, ‘I Forget to Breathe’, and ‘The Monster in Me’, ‘Fragile’ off the latest album “…The Stories We Could Tell” are indicative of their soulful/bluesy hard rock style. With that, ‘Take Cover’ off “Hey Man” is smooth with spirit (like Eric’s presence and delivery), and segues nicely into ‘Green Tinted’. ‘American Beauty’ from “What If…” kicks a little harder with a grittier guitar, groove carries ‘Undertow’, and Sheehan gets his funk on for ‘Around the World‘. ‘Rock n Roll Over’ from the debut keeps the boys grounded in solid hard rock roots. A couple times between songs Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan showed their stuff; once trading off a flurry of notes, then individually, a satisfying amount of dexterity without taking away from a nice long two hour setlist. Ballad ‘To Be With You’ found itself in an odd place, between the energetic ‘Addicted To That Rush’ and ‘Colorado Bulldog’ a hard kick to the face, basically Mr. Big saying “don’t let the ballads fool ya, we play hard rock”.

Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)
Gotta Love the Ride
American Beauty
Guitar/Bass Duel
Alive and Kickin' (Torpey on drums)
I Forget to Breathe
Take Cover
Green-Tinted Sixties Mind
Out of the Underground
Guitar Solo
The Monster in Me
Rock & Roll Over
As Far as I Can See
Wild World (Cat Stevens cover)
Just Take My Heart
Around the World
Bass Solo
Addicted to That Rush
To Be With You
Colorado Bulldog
The Light of Day

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