Mr. Big - LIVE: Koko, London 2014

The Stories We Could Tell Tour
October 17
Capacity 1400

Kicking off their European tour in style, Mr.Big played to a sold out London Koko on a Friday night. In terms of the support, Octave put on in no shape a bad performance, as they're clearly an outfit with some potential and vocal talent, but unfortunately they were completely the wrong band for the night. There rustic, acoustic sound could not have been further from the headliners, which indeed begs the question 'Why were they supporting Mr. Big?' Despite this, they received deserved rounds of polite applause and a positive lack of heckling, demonstrating that they weren't poor in anyway, they were just the wrong selection.

Due to an early curfew, Mr. Big took to the stage at around 19:45 and launched immediately into Gotta Love The Ride, before the drills came out for Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy. It was a very compact 20 odd song set for the band, as they seemed to just fly through numbers at a lightening pace and within an hour thirteen tracks had already gone by. There were a few reasons for this; firstly they keep the chat between songs to an ideal amount, instead of speaking to the audience every few numbers with a few comments, preferring to interact within the songs themselves. Secondly, unlike in the past, guitarist Paul Gilbert's and bassist Billy Sheehan's solos were no longer than a few minutes each, and given that the majority of the material allows for them to show off their chops and solo extrovertly anyway, it never really felt like the audience was being deprived of their mastery of strings.

The set itself was a good selection from their catalogue, with old favourites mixed in with numbers from their most recent releases What If? and ...The Stories We Could Tell. In fact, Mr. Big certainly didn't rest on the laurels of their greatest hits, as five tracks from their latest release found their way into the set, with all of them being quite positively received by the audience. In terms of stand-out parts of the set, Alive And Kickin' was thick with swagger and groove, while Addicted To That Rush was a fiery hurricane of fret board work that really showed what Mr. Big are all about. The crowd expectedly lapped up Wild World, Just Take My Heart and To Be With You, which were refreshingly played with a more relaxed attitude than other bands take towards some of their best hits. That's not to say the band seemed uninterested, they just didn't draw an overt amount of attention to their popularity, or behave like they were the crowning jewels of the set; a crime many artists seem to commit all too regularly.

Due to drummer Pat Torpey's unfortunate diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease earlier this year, Matt Star filled in on drums for the night. So it was perhaps one of the highlights of the evening when singer Eric Martin announced that Torpey was "alive and kicking" before the drummer ran onto the stage and accompanied the band for the majority of the set on tambourines and a small percussion kit. He also took up the full-sized kit for a few of the less strenuous songs, and was met with a huge roar and chants of ‘Pat, pat, pat' from the crowd. Much like the show in its entirety the band were faultless in their performance, with Eric Martin being as charismatic as ever, while Gilbert and Sheehan demonstrated exactly why they're two of the most revered players around. Starr also did an excellent job of filling Torpey's rather large shoes, and although he didn't quite capture the percussive element of the latter's playing, his thunderous Bonham-like style was a welcome addition to the sound of the band. The encore's included Colorado Bulldog, Mr.Big (by Free) and a cover of Livin' After Midnight which featured Martin on bass, Sheehan on guitar, Gilbert on drums and Torpey on vocals after an exchange of instruments took place.

To put it bluntly, there's very little, if not nothing that Mr.Big could have been faulted for. They were energetic, fiery and technically superb throughout the entirety of the evening. Along with the touching reception to the well looking Pat Torpey, it's certainly a shame that the Koko was Mr.Big's only UK date on this tour, as with the quality they boast as a band, and the kind of performance they put on, they deserve to be filling venues across the country.

“ didn't rest on the laurels of their greatest hits ”

Setlist: Gotta Love The Ride / Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy / American Beauty / Undertow / Alive and Kickin' / I Forget To Breathe/ Take Cover / Green-Tinted Sixties Mind / Out of The Underground / Guitar Solo / The Monster In Me / Rock & Roll Over / As Far As I Can See / Wild World / East/West / Just Take My Heart / Fragile / Around The World / Bass Solo / Addicted To That Rush/ To Be With You // The Stories We Could Tell / Colorado Bulldog / Living After Midnight / Mr. Big

Written by James Abel
More: 2014, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock,

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