MR. BIG (Live)

At Northumbria University, Newcastle, U.K., November 17, 2017

MR. BIG (Live at Northumbria University, Newcastle, U.K., November 17, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

In the past 7 days there’s been a couple of great package tours to keep Hard Rock fans engrossed. From Alice Cooper’s show with The Tubes and The Mission and Black Star Riders bringing in a collection of up and coming talent in Dirty Thrills, Tax The Heat and Blues Pills these shows gave the fans serious value for money.

Northumbria University played host on Friday night to another package tour and arguably the most diverse of them all including the L.A Glam of Faster Pussycat, the Blues Rock of Ireland’s The Answer along with headliners, Mr Big, the masters of technical, melodic Hard Rock.

With only lead singer Taime Downe remaining from the gold record days of the late ’80s Faster Pussycat tore into Cathouse and Babylon with a suitably sleazy zeal straight from the gutters of L.A.

The Answer’s brand of Blues fired Rock has won them many fans over the years and in Cormac Neeson have a genuine singer who can stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the greats from the ’70s. The Zeppelin inspired epic, Solas along with up-tempo Rocker, On and On and a choice take on Rose Tattoo’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw made their set race by in no time.

When Mr Big first appeared in the scene back in ’89 they were written off as just another supergroup, a vanity project of established musicians who’d float off to something else when they felt like it. 30 years on and those comments look a little hollow. With their 9th album, Defying Gravity, just released Mr Big are far from a flash in the pan.

Mr Big know just how to open a show with the triple knockout blow of Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy; American Beauty and Undertow, each a different pace and vibe but each the perfect fit. Of course, the double trademark drill solo by guitarist Paul Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan was lapped up by their fans.

With the virtuosity of Gilbert and Sheehan in the band you’d expect a room crammed full of musos salivating live Pavlov’s Dogs at the technical flair that both possess. While it’s true they did show off their chops throughout the night they were mostly within the confines of tightly structured, melodic songs and it was the songs that came first whether the tight vocal harmonies of the hit Green Tinted Sixties Mind, the punchy riff heavy Rock & Roll Over or the Thin Lizzy riff and Glitter Band swagger of Everybody Needs A Little Trouble.

Lead singer Eric Martin seems to be getting younger as each year passes and possesses a golden, soulful throat nurtured and inspired by the Soul and Motown greats of old and handles everything from the hard rock of Open Your Eyes to the acoustic driven Damn I’m In Love again with ease.

They have the songs, they have the incredible musicianship but more than that their camaraderie shines brightly throughout the performance. Impressive new drummer Matt Starr spends most of the night behind the kit but when original drummer Pat Torpey joins the band on stage behind a percussion rig and on backing vocals the biggest cheer of the night is heard. Such is his importance to the band and the friendship between the members, his recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, while limiting his ability to drums, has not stopped him from being such an integral part of Mr. Big and when he did sit behind the full kit for the ballad Just Take My Heart there were one or two tearful eyes in the crowd.

Mr Big are not one of those bands that releases a new album then doesn’t bother to play any live. With around half of the album played throughout the night it kept the band fresh and vibrant.

With a closing run of the classic in your face attack of Addicted To That Rush and the worldwide Number 1 acoustic smash, To Be With You alongside 1992 and Defying Gravity, it was the perfect blend of old and new, hits and classics to send everyone home more than happy.

Review and Photos by Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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