MR. BIG (Live)

At The Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, IL, USA, June 2, 2017

Paul Gilbert of MR. BIG (Live at The Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, IL, USA, June 2, 2017)
Photo: Scott Jeslis

Two days ago Mr. Big started a new tour, in the USA no less, in support of their forthcoming ninth studio album, Defying Gravity, which is due out on July 7th, 2017. On June 2nd, being only the second stop of the new tour, Mr. Big landed in a western suburb of Chicago, Illinois (USA) at a venue they’ve frequented several times before, the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Ironically, as Mr. Big pulled into town, the late arrival of Summer heat also hit the Midwest. As Mother Nature was keeping the outdoors sultry, Mr. Big was reciprocating by keeping the atmosphere of the indoor 900-seat, 1926 theatre sweltering as well!

The band hit the stage, firing on all cylinders, on time and opened up with a blistering block of high energy catalogue picks starting with “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy” followed by “American Beauty”,  and “Undertow”. Before the band charged into “Alive And Kickin'”, Pat Torpey was announced and he stayed on hand the rest of the night to perform backing vocals and percussion. Touring drummer Matt Starr, sporting a Cheap Trick t-shirt no less (factoid: Cheap Trick hails from Rockford, Illinois), once again confidently held down the beats.

Mr. Big, June 2, 2017 - Arcada Theatre
Photo: Scott Jeslis

Mr. Big still remains one of the few bands that can take an audience through a string of emotions going from a super-charged Hard Rock song, to a Pop Rock song and end with a catchy ballad and continue the cycle over and over and not lose their audience at all. Tonight was no different, going from the funked-up “Temperamental” to the ballad “Just Take My Heart” to the upbeat “Take Cover”.

Mr. Big, June 2, 2017 - Arcada Theatre
Photo: Scott Jeslis

Towards the middle of the set Mr. Big did unleash a completely new song from their forthcoming album in “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble”. It was well received but, understandably so, lost some of the crowd energy as the fans are still unfamiliar with that song which isn’t released on any media format yet, as “1992” is the current new single. Thankfully though that particular song has an upbeat tempo and had some great Gilbert lead work in it.

Mr. Big, June 2, 2017 - Arcada Theatre
Photo: Scott Jeslis

Performance wise, yes everyone has aged, as is life, but the band didn’t seem to be any worse because of it. Eric Martin sounded great and engaged the crowd as necessary without going into lengthy spans of story telling while harmonies were spot on. Paul Gilbert is still a entertaining man of “many faces” as he grins, oohs, grimaces, etc. while playing his lead notes. Paul’s expected guitar solo was musically eclectic, much like his solo works. Billy’s bass solo was entertaining as well, although it seemed like the volume went up once Billy bust into solo. It wasn’t until the third quarter of the set though until Paul and Billy got into their much missed “interplay”.  The one drawback to Mr. Big’s music in a live setting is that Paul and Billy are often times anchored behind their microphones to perform the abundance of the band’s harmonies. It was nice to watch Eric relinquish center stage though to Paul during his solos. The band does seem to be getting on well together and that’s a great thing!

Not many bands can start off their encore with an almost “A cappella” ballad in “To Be With You” and get upper middle-aged men to sing along as well. If that wasn’t enough the band also threw in the current single “1992” into the encore mix which was very well received. The night ended with an energetic and entertaining cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” which included some nice extended solo work by both Paul and Billy.

All in all, it was a wonderful set and performance that hit the favorites, Hard Rock and ballads alike. The band is indeed still “Alive And Kickin'” and is worthy of your hard earned dollars to pay them a visit if the opportunity arises.

Expand To See Full Setlist
Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)
American Beauty
Alive And Kickin’
Just Take My Heart
Take Cover
Green-Tinted Sixties Mind
Everybody Needs A Little Trouble (New Song)
Price You Gotta Pay
Guitar Solo
Take a Walk
Wild World
Rock & Roll Over
Around the World
Bass Solo
Addicted to That Rush
To Be With You
Colorado Bulldog
1992 (Latest Single)
Baba O’Riley (Who cover)


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

    View all posts

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