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Shepherd's Bush Empire, London 12 September 2009
fashion for bands reuniting shows no sign of abating, but I was rather
taken by surprise with the ease with which early 90’s melodic rock 'supergroup'
Mr Big sold out their first UK show in 15 years at Shepherds Bush Empire.
Even more surprising was the number of younger people, presumably fans of
respected guitar hero Paul GIlbert, alongside those of us who were into
them first time round.
rolled back as they opened with Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy, with
Paul and bassist Billy Sheehan playing their trademark solos with electric
drills, and Take Cover from the underappreciated Hey Man album, before
throwing in two of their strongest numbers early on in Green Tinted
Sixties Mind and Alive and Kicking.
nostalgia was not the only order of the day- new song Next Time Around was
impressive, and the band visibly had a blast covering Hold Your Head Up.
For my money
though, ever youthful singer Eric Martin was the weak link - on songs like
Just Take My Heart he sounded rougher and a bit tired compared to his
original crystal clear delivery.
contrived comments between songs, not to mention his bouffant hairstyle
and bright green t-shirt which gave him the air of a 1970’s C and A
catalogue model, had an air of cheesiness to them.
with Mr Big had always been that Billy, Paul and drummer Pat Torpey were
virtuoso musicians in their own right, but these tendencies were reined in
for a straight ahead commercial approach.
concert they were given full latitude to play a number of jams and solo
slots; while the musicianship was immaculate it made for a frustratingly
fragmented mid section of the gig.
highlights- the Zep-influenced Take a Walk, their cover of Wild World,
Whole World Is Gonna Know and Rock and Roll Over with Paul reeling off a
typically effortless solo - were somewhat buried among the
lengthy bass solo from Billy led to the band finally rocking out again
with Addicted to that Rush, with snatches of Lazy and One Way out.
rolled along at a much faster pace, beginning with To Be With You, their
big - and untypical hit - and the rapid fire Colorado Bulldog.
A cover of
Baba O’Reilly again showcased their musical ability before - after Eric
held up a fan request - Shy Boy from Billy’s days with David Lee Roth
closed a 2 hour plus set.
the perfect return, but it is great to have them back and showing off
their undoubted talents.
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