Mr. Big – Live From Milan (Album Review)

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A live release from Mr. Big that wasn’t recorded in Japan seems a strange proposition, but it does happen, folks. Set for release on July 13, Live from Milan will be met by bittersweet ears, as it captures one of Pat Torpey‘s last performances with the band.  Suffering from Parkinson’s disease for a long time, Torpey passed away in early 2018, only a handful of months after this recording. Therefore, the album works as the swansong of one of the nicest guys in rock, and one of the most creative and prolific drummers out there.

Parkinson’s didn’t seem to deter Pat, and he chose to continue writing and recording with Mr. Big, and touring with them to the extent that he could. The percussion duties were taken over by Matt Starr in 2014, and Pat would still play on slower tracks, and sing a song or two live. All the more reasons for the band to leave behind any bad blood – if there was still any – and celebrate his legacy. They haven’t been immune to internal problems – a temporary break up in 1997 and a more extensive hiatus between 2002 and 2009 exposed the differences of opinion between the band members – but since they decided to regroup it seemed the camaraderie was back. That can certainly be felt in Live from Milan.

After the reunion, Mr. Big released What If… (2009), …The Stories We Could Tell (2014) and Defying Gravity (2017), to critics and fans’ acclaim. Their tours were not as extensive as they used to be back in the 90’s, but their consistency remained out of this world and the energy level on stage, unmatched. Live from Milan is a great representation of their live performance, and the track-listing will surely satisfy long-time and newer fans of the band equally. It’s a career-spanning set-list, and of course it contains bass and guitar solos from the always entertaining and awe inspiring Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert.

“Live From Milan” Album Artwork

Moreover, what a joy it is to see such seasoned players clearly enjoy each other’s company finally, and seamlessly go through such complex material. Their songs have a distinctive feel and quality: tough to play and friendly to one’s ears at the same time. Their numerous hit songs range across a wide array of rock genres – be it ballads, heavy metal, or blues-rock. Kicking off with the frantic trio of “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy”, “American Beauty” and “Undertow” was a smart move to get the crowd worked up. Slower numbers like “Alive and Kickin’”, “Just Take My Heart” and the country-tinged “Damn I’m In Love Again” are just as well received, and Eric Martin hardly had to ask for the crow to join the choruses. Other live staples such as “To Be With You” and “Wild World”, although a bit worn out through time, get fresh renditions here. And on “Around the World”, Billy and Paul’s dexterity is tested to the max with a guitar-bass unison that would give any prog-metal band a run for its money.

Matt Star does a tremendous job replacing Pat, and while he added his flare to some of the tracks here, he wisely chose to respect the original beats of “Take Cover” and “Temperamental”. The distinctive backing vocals of Billy and Paul shine throughout, and provide support to Eric’s velvety tone. While his voice does show signs of wear and tear on certain tracks, he still delivers, and is quite an entertainer live.  And it’s worth noting that newer songs like “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble” and “1992” as just as well received as live staples such as “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” or “Addicted To That Rush”.

Set closers “Colorado Bulldog” and “Defying Gravity” are appropriate sendoffs and a perfect farewell for a band that deserves all praise and more, if not just by the songs and performance, but also by the respect and reverence with which they addressed Pat’s illness. Gratitude is a rare feat in the music business, and Mr. Big made it clear they wouldn’t leave Pat behind. As a unity, they made the point that the four core members would stay together until the end, and kept their word throughout.

Released By: Frontiers Music Srl
Release Date: July 13th, 2018
Genre: Hard Rock

Band Members:

  • Eric Martin/ Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
  • Paul Gilbert/ Guitar, Vocals
  • Billy Sheehan/ Bass, Vocals
  • Pat Torpey / Drums, Percussion, Vocals
  • Matt Starr/ Drums, Vocals

“Live From Milan” Track-Listing:

Disc 1:

  1. Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy
  2. American Beauty
  3. Undertow
  4. Alive And Kickin’
  5. Temperamental
  6. Just Take My Heart
  7. Take Cover
  8. Green-Tinted Sixties Mind
  9. Everybody Needs A Little Trouble
  10. Price You Gotta Pay
  11. Paul’s Solo
  12. Open Your Eyes
  13. Wild World
  14. Damn I’m In Love Again

Disc 2:

  1. Rock And Roll Over
  2. Around The World
  3. Billy’s Solo
  4. Addicted To That Rush
  5. To Be With You
  6. 1992
  7. Colorado Bulldog
  8. Defying Gravity
9.0 Excellent

While Mr. Big’s live albums are plenty, there’s something different on this one – Jay Ruston’s production enhances every instrument’s contribution, and Eric’s voice sounds loud and clear. The setlist encompasses all eras of the band, except the albums with Richie Kotzen. It works perfectly as a live greatest hits album and an appropriate farewell of the classic lineup era of the band, while at the same time feels like a befitting tribute to Pat Torpey’s legacy

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 9
  • Production 8

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