Mr Big makes a rare appearance on Tyneside for their first show in the region in over six years.

The US-based quartet released their incredible new studio record Defying Gravity via Frontiers Records earlier this year. Subsequently, the band are back in the UK with an extensive tour in support of their latest offering and the North East rock fraternity are out in force to welcome their return.

Tonight’s show at the Northumbria Institute features a formidable triple bill of rock. For those in attendance early in the evening glam merchants Faster Pussycat kick off the show and take the crowd through the likes of the hard rocking “Slip of the Tongue” and “Number One With A Bullet” before slowing things down with their ballad “House of Pain”.

Northern Ireland’s The Answer is the precursor to the main event and as the band are currently touring in support of their latest album Solas, they open with the title song itself. Tracks like their slide fuelled blues-rock number “Preachin’” really stand out in the set, or as the band’s frontman, Cormac calls it Northern Ireland swamp music.

Tonight’s show in Newcastle could well be billed as a battle of the ballads, with each of the three artists taking the opportunity to showcase their softer side. With The Answer, this takes the shape of “Strange Kind of Nothing”. The track features some stunning vocal harmonies and is infused with some subtle blues harp. A singalong ensues with the band singing along in unison with their Geordie fanbase.

The Answer also put forward a superb cover of Rose Tattoo’s “Rock N Roll Outlaw” before closing their short but sweet set with an emphatic rendition of “Come Follow Me”. The band leaves the crowd more than warmed up for the mighty Mr Big.

Unlike most supergroups who tend to fall by the wayside after their first couple of records, Mr Big have witnessed great success over the years which has subsequently sustained their longevity. Next year Mr Big will celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band.

As the dynamic outfit hits the stage they walk their fiercely loyal Geordie followers down memory lane with a set which retrospectively looks back on the band’s whole career. Mr Big kick off the proceedings with the frantic “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy”. As has become customary, both lead guitarist Paul Gilbert and bass player Billy Sheehan demonstrate their flair and exquisite showmanship by playing their instruments with the aid of a Makita electric drill.

Throughout the course of their almost two-hour show, Mr Big take the opportunity to showcase Defying Gravity with almost half of the album included in the set. This includes the likes of the groove-heavy “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble” and the beautiful acoustic number “Damn I’m In Love Again” which falls in the same ballpark as the band’s crowd-pleasing classic “Wild World”. The latter of which also features midway through the band’s impressive 22 song set.

Despite the onus on Mr Big’s new album, there is plenty of room for fan favourites, with the likes of the blistering “Green Tinted Sixties Mind”, the infectious “Addicted To That Rush” and Mr Big’s hit single “To Be With You” all featuring in the show.

Having being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2014, Mr Big drummer Pat Torpey makes a heart-warming appearance playing alongside the band’s current touring sticks man Matt Starr. Pat adds percussion and some fantastic backing vocals throughout the course of the evening.

Both Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert light up the stage all night long with their blistering, emotive and devastatingly technical playing. Of course, they each, in turn, take a spellbinding solo spot during the latter stages of the show.

Mr Big close out their marathon set with a couple of tracks from their new album in the shape of the nostalgic “1992” and the title track itself.

After almost 30 years together Mr Big are still wowing crowds with their distinctive brand of classic rock. On the strength of tonight’s performance, the band proves that they are still at the very top of their game. 

Mr Big
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The Answer
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Faster Pussycat
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Event Date: 17-Nov-2017

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam’s work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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