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Mr. Big Completes the US Leg of the Big Finish in Buffalo

The first time I heard Mr. Big was probably the same as everyone else, immediately upon the release of their massive single "To Be with You," back when I was a 6th grade Junior High student in 1991.

As a pre-teen, who was just beginning to round out my taste in music, this band was really easy to dive into. One of the first things I noticed, however, was how much more the rest of the album (1991's 'Lean Into It') rock, as opposed to the lead single. Sure, the band is best known for a few ballads (also including their 1993 cover of Cat Steven's "Wild World"), but they genuinely kick ass from start to finish!

Somehow, it's taken me until their final tour to actually catch a date (though I don't believe they're really played Buffalo much over the years). It was with great anticipation that I filed into the brand-new Electric City venue in Buffalo (formerly The Tralf) to see the newly renovated space. The venue was an exceptionally clean and sleek looking place to showcase a large club/theater sized show and I'll be sure to return for some future dates!

Eric Martin was a firecracker of energy from the moment Mr. Big took the stage

While I consider myself a Buffalo guy, I've lived here since I was 9 years old (1989), I really didn't grow up on Talas. That was a band I had to go back and uncover, but it was never part of my upbrining. I'm just as familiar with some of Billy's other projects like The Winery Dogs and his work with David Lee Roth. Eric Martin, on the other hand, had hooks in me dating back to the 'Iron Eagle' soundtrack of the mid-80's with songs like "These Are the Good Times" and "Eyes of the World," both tracks I'd have killed to see live.

On this particular evening, the venue was absolutely packed. If this wasn't a sell-out, it was awfully close. It seemed as though the entire city of Buffalo had come out to celebrate hometown hero, Billy Sheehan's swan song with Mr. Big, and the moment certainly wasn't lost on him.

While there was no opening act on this tour, Mr. Big played for a full two hours, delivering an exceptional, career-spanning set. They kicked off the show with "Addicted to That Rush," from their self-titled debut, followed by "Take Cover" and "Price You Gotta Pay" from their mid-90's albums 'Hey Man' and 'Bump Ahead,' respectively. It was during this stretch that I noticed something a bit unique with the way these guys play.

Paul GIlbert, performing an insane guitar solo with Mr. Big in Buffalo

During "Price You Gotta Pay," (I believe) Eric Martin attempted to hit a high note he just wasn't quite ready for yet. Rather than blowing the moment, or skipping it altogether, he owned it in the moment and adjusted to move forward. I can't even explain how refreshing that was. While so many musicians are using backing tracks, it was great to see some real honesty from the stage. To further the point, my overall observation as it relates to Eric Martin is that this man's voice is still incredible. He knows what he can do, though, and adjusts where necessary. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to see this voice live, as he's been way up there to me for years. I'd put Martin on the same shelf as Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Tesla's Jeff Keith. These guys are all in a league of their own.

Next up was the full "Lean Into It" album. So many of these songs were instantly familiar again, starting right out of the gate with "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy" and "Alive and Kickin'" Of course, we eventually landed on the album closer, "To Be With You," but not before hitting every preceding track, also including "Just Take My Heart," another huge hit for the band in the early 90's.

Billy Sheehan taking in the hometown crowd at Mr. Big's final US show

Following the album performance, the band performed a mandatory cover of "Wild World" before playing a pair of old school rock and roll show solo's, both Paul Gilbert on guitar and Billy Sheehan on bass. Solos like these were all too common back in the day, but I can honestly say I haven't seen musicians showcased like this in probably twenty years, another refreshing moment during the show.

The home stretch was littered with some other covers including Talas' "Shy Boy" and concluding with The Who's "Baba O'Riley" before the band took their final bows in the United States.

Photo Gallery: All photos by Charlie Meister


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