Budapest, Diesel Club
More often than not I couldn't care less about reunion tours of this decade, especially in case I have seen the band in question in their prime several times. This was not the case with Mr. Big as they are among my all time favorites and not a single gig I have ever seen or heard with them, live, on disc, or on DVD failed to impress. I guess you have heard it zillion times from raving lunatics coming home from a Mr. Big gig that these guys are the greatest band live in the history of rock music. I'm quite far from being a raving lunatic, much rather an old fart who is hard to impress but they really are the greatest live band ever...
There's something alien about this band: they don't seem to get any older with time. I'd be damned if Billy Sheehan looked *any* different in his Talas years (betcha he was still wearing the very same spandex for stage this time) and quite frankly he looked older when playing with David Lee Roth more than 20 years ago. As for Eric Martin and PG they still have the face of a child and Pat Thorpey is as energetic as ever. Do you need any more proof for their energy than the fact they played 23 tracks over 2 hours without the services of any opening act in a moderate sized, absolutely sold-out club?
Meeting all my expectation the set was heavy on early material as well as instrumental intermezzos. You can't get much better than the opening trio of "Daddy, Brother...", "Take Cover" and "Green Tinted..." and the following "Alive and Kicking" put a big smile on many of the old fans' face including me. The band felt it was time to insert new material right there and it went by smooth, not ruining the natural flow of the concert, they managed to maintain the enthusiasm of the audience though I doubt many knew the songs "Next Time Around" and the following "Hold Your Head Up".
The musicians got over the obligatory ballads, surviving both "Just Take My Heart" and an acoustic "Wild World" (both absolute musts as there was a surprisingly high concentration of women at the show who needed to be entertained, too) yet the band came alive during their solo parts and more importantly during their less-played old tunes like a VERY heavy-sounding version of "Take A Walk" which was my biggest and most pleasant surprise in the set-list or "Rock n' Roll Over". Being an instrumental freak it's hard to judge what other people think yet I believe most of the solo parts were tolerable even for a less guitar-oriented audience, as they were playful, and the ever-present and all so obvious joy of improvisation that is characteristic for every Mr. Big show lingered all over them. Personally I could have done without Pat's drum solo, not only because I'm not a big fan of drum solos but because it was the standard drum solo you get on almost every concert and you expe ct more from this band than a standard. But the joint solo by PG and Billy featuring double-neck guitars with the other two musicians joining in on simple fret movements towards the end was unbeatable.
The regular set was finished with "Addicted to that Rush", a song I love, and so did the audience. The first encore consisted of "To Be With You" (what else?!) and "Colorado Bulldog". I'm not quite sure if the second encore was a pre-planned part of the gig or just an extra due to very positive audience response, anyway they pulled "Smoke on the Water" with musicians switching instruments. It wasn't a novelty to me as I've seen them doing that stunt before but the people I talked after the show were all the more impressed (well, well, marbles can do wonders with the natives, especially after an unhealthy doze of firewater...). "Shy Boy" was a more than appropriate finish for the gig, they just crashed through the song at an insane speed and intensity and before the audience had any chance to request even more, they were off. With over 2 hours of explosive energy and as stunning musicianship as ever from them, we had nothing left to ask for. If you were disappointed by the outcome of certain reunions like White Lion, Van Halen, Europe, Ratt, House of Lords, and the list could go on and on, make sure to check Mr. Big out as they would certainly wash the bad taste away.
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner