Mr. Big Nails The Big Finish

By: Debbie Brautman | Photos: Tom Craig

No, we’re not talking about “Mr. Big” from the television series Sex In The City. We are talking about the American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1988, consisting of Eric Martin (singer), Paul Gilbert (guitarist), Billy Sheehan (bassist), and Pat Torpey (drummer). Sadly, Pat Torpey passed away in 2018. He has been replaced with Nick D’Virgilio. Their name, Mr. Big, comes from a song by the rock band, Free. Their biggest hits are “To Be With You,” “Just Take My Heart,” and a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World.” With their long flowing 80’s glam metal hair, they were the perfect MTV darlings. Being so video-friendly, their videos were in constant rotation. Their young MTV fans are all grown up and showed up to fill the Broward Center’s intimate Amaturo theater, which doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. Not that any seats were needed, because the crowd refused to sit down during the entire concert. They were that excited to see the final tour of their beloved band, Mr. Big.

Eric Martin baited the crowd, “I know you love Mr. Big and I know you love the rush of Mr. Big.” The crowd enthusiastically agreed as Mr. Big opened with their powerful rocker, “Addicted To That Rush.” Martin commanded the show with high energy and youthful exuberance and they all looked like they were having fun. On “Take Cover,” Sheehan’s bass playing struck a funky and chunky groove. Martin showed off his strong vocal power on “Undertow,” and Gilbert’s guitar rocked it. On “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Drill Song,)” Gilbert played his guitar with a real electric drill, making a great visual. The psychedelic-tinged “Green Tinted Face Sixties Mind” featured an intricate and catchy guitar intro, reminiscent of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child Of Mine,” combined with great harmonies that come off well live. What makes this band special is just how well they sing together. For those unfamiliar, they are a melodic, blues-infused high-energy rock band, who don’t seem to have slowed down much with age and sounded better than you’d imagine. A Jeff Paris tune, “CDFF-Lucky This Time,” suits Martin’s voice and Sheehan plays a double-neck bass on it. Martin has said he was “furious” that Atlantic Records had left the CDFF in the song title, which stands for CD Fast Forward. “Voodoo Kiss” is a bluesy, swampy, sexy gem with loads of swagger. “Never Say Never” has the power drive of a Motorhead song with equally strong vocals. On “Just Take My Heart,” Martin belts it out with emotion. It’s a beautiful and sad song with the lyrics, “Just take my heart when you go, I don’t have the need for it anymore.” It was a highlight.

Commenting on “My Kinda Woman” Martin adds, “I have been waiting to do this one for years.” They’ve all had various solo projects and other bands since 1988 and this evening was a special reunion for Mr. Big, and the fans knew it. Martin explains, “A Little Too Loose” is a sleazy ass song that’s really cool.” “Road to Ruin” is a song that has nothing to do with the Ramones album, Road to Ruin. “Wild World” is an inspired cover of Cat Stevens’ classic song, featuring Martin on acoustic guitar. They threw in a guitar solo by Gilbert before launching into “Colorado Bulldog,” which is a heavy-duty jam, and then came a stellar bass solo from Sheehan. “Shy Boy” is a song from Sheehan’s early band Talas. Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole,” was another great choice of a cover. They did a cover of “Good Lovin’” (The Olympics version.) For fun, they all switched instruments, with Billy Sheehan singing, Eric Martin playing bass, Paul Gilbert switching to drums and Nick Virgilio playing guitar, which showed their musicality and versatility. The audience did the “Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs” and it was Fun, Fun, Fun. The concert had a nice flow with a blend of hits, covers, and fan favorites. Martin is known as a chatterbox but had just the perfect amount of stage chit-chat. He engaged the audience with confidence and the band really rocked all night long. They’ve come a long way, and you have to wonder why they’d be closing the door on touring when they still can put on such a great show. The encore is a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” and Martin worked the crowd into a frenzy. They all took their bows and had made it clear that this was the final curtain on their final tour.

Robin Taylor Zander opened the show. He is the son of Cheap Trick’s lead singer, Robin Wayne Zander, and sounds incredibly like him, with such a giant voice. He played four original songs from his album, The Distance, and three Cheap Trick covers, “I Can’t Take It,” “Voices,” and “It All Comes Back To You.” He was warmly received.

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