Live Review: Mr. Big – Wolverhampton

Mr Big - Wolverhampton - KK's Steel Mill

Live Review: Mr. Big - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
22nd March 2024
Support: Jared James Nichols
Words & Photos: Scott Clarke

Pulling up this evening at KK’s Steel Mill was a bittersweet feeling. Here we were back at the Midlands premier live music venue about to see two great acts however, it would also potentially be the final time seeing legends Mr. Big grace the stage as their farewell journey marched on to another show of their stacked The Big Finish tour.

First thing to note is that I had trouble parking, that should’ve told me something. As the queue for the doors snaked around the building I knew we would be in for a busy evening but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how busy. As popular as KK’s Steel Mill always is, I think this evening ranks up there with possibly one of the busiest nights I’ve seen. Wall to wall and from the stage to the doors, people were gathered in their masses, it was heaving. The other thing to note is that there wasn’t a trickling of people through the night just to see the main act either, the place was pretty much at capacity for the support this evening which is with very good reason.

Up first hailing from Wisconsin, was a blues rock maestro with the soulful voice that I’m happy to say I have seen countless times and every time leaves me wanting to see him again. I am talking about Jared James Nichols.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

The statuesque fellow dominates the stage with his presence but Jared is a gentle giant leaving his music and his incredible guitar playing prowess to speak for themselves. It’s an intense set as ever, the dirty guitar tones sound so expressive at Jared’s masterful finger tips and his voice, powerful as it is, soars above the instrumental assault with face melting solos.

Most of the set consists of material from the latest release, self titled Jared James Nichols, although we don’t have a deep dive through Jared’s back catalogue tonight, it’s testament to his song writing that we are spoilt for choice and with only so much time available and having seen him several times, it was nice to get an earful of the newer stuff.

Easy Come, Easy Go. Down the Drain, Hard Wired, Threw Me to the Wolves, Skin n’ Bone, Bad Roots, Good Time Girl and rounding out with the fantastic rendition of War Pigs, because when in the Midlands it’s customary to play Sabbath, which had the whole audience join in singing. Jared is on top form throughout as the crowd cheer and demand more, seeing him over the years he has grown on stage to a level he now looks like he belongs there.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

The headliners really chose a great way to warm up the crowd, inviting Jared along. His style and presence are always a high octane way to kick off a night but he deserves so much more recognition in his own right. Of the times I’ve seen Jared live, most have been as support its true, however he has the material and skills and grace and fan base for more of his own run of headline shows.

If you’ve seen Jared before, you enjoy his stuff and if you haven’t seen him then you’re in for a treat and will leave the night a fan. He is a genuinely great guy, incredibly talented yet so humble, grounded and hard working and so appreciative.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

It’s an odd turn of events that saw me last attend KK’s to see Fozzy who played Blitzkrieg Bop as their final song of the night and here were are tonight with the same song piped through the venue system before the legends Mr. Big take to the stage. It’s also an unusual occurrence to know in advance what to expect regarding the song choice as tonight we were to be treated to a full live play through of one of the bands most iconic releases, Lean Into It from 1991, which features some of their biggest hits. In fact its almost 33 years to the day since the album was released.

As the lights dim and the familiar Mr. Big logo lights up the led screen on stage, a huge cheer erupts from the crowd, it’s a loud one and includes some of the fans in the front row who have travelled all the way from Japan and Denmark to be here tonight.

It was a tremendous start to the set, 3 great tunes to warm up with, Addicted To That Rush, Take Cover and Price You Gotta Pay. The crowd were already buzzing from Jared’s opening but this was on another level as all members of Mr. Big demonstrated from the outset their energy levels and intensity that make them such a joy to see, we also get a touching tribute to Pat Torpey from Eric.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

Up next, as advertised, the complete play through of the Lean Into It album, released initially in 1991 and still sounding as fresh as ever. The songs, like the band themselves have aged like a fine wine and its difficult to remember that they have been touring for as long as they have as I have seen many bands with significantly less on stage enthusiasm as what is on display here. Mr Big, genuine talents and professionals doing what they love and it shows.

Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy, Alive and Kickin’, Green Tinted Sixties Mind blend into each other as the band effortlessly transition between songs. The catchy, up beat melodies synonymous with their style get everyone in a good mood and singing along.

The slower, deliberately impactful intro riff of CDFF – Lucky this Time plays out to more cheers from the crowd, Paul Gilbert’s masterfully effortless guitar work plays out an intro to Voodoo Kiss after which we move to Never Say Never and culminates in leading into the immediately identifiable intro solo to one of the albums biggest hits, Just Take My Heart, there’s a brief hush over the crowd as the solo plays before a cheer and the crowd join Eric, singing word for word the whole song, its an emotive moment of unity between artist and fans and I think it’s enjoyed by both parties. The song slowly fades out and the biggest shout out of the night so far culminates a terrific moment of the set.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

My Kinda Woman brings the more up beat sounds back to the forefront which leads into A Little Too Loose and an Eric Martin countdown for Road to Ruin. Eric then leads us through the band as each member gets a well deserved ovation from the audience for their spectacular contributions before the album play through culminates in the biggest hit of the bands career, Too Be With You, another that went down an absolute storm and had the entirety of KK’s singing along with Eric and holding phones aloft, it was a moment I was glad to be a part of.

However despite our spoil of riches that we had been treated to so far, the evening wasn’t over yet, Mr Big carried on with even more, Wild World, Colorado Bulldog, Shy Boy, 30 Days in the Hole, a complete instrument swap around at one point, mixing in guitar solos from Paul Gilbert with a Rocky twist, a Bass solo from Billy and culminating in a cover of The Who’s Baba O’Riley. It was a fantastic show, bearing in mind there were no real breaks for any of them during the set, it was fairly full on and continuous. To play the way they did for as long as they did, with consistently high energy levels and enjoyment takes some doing and I think everyone in attendance were fully appreciative of what they had been witness to this evening.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography


Although Eric Martin's vocals weren’t as powerful as some 30 plus years ago (who’s would be?), he has also opened up to struggling recently with some issues but rather than disappoint the fans, he soldiered on through with a little assistance from Billy and Paul and Michele Luppi who has worked with Whitesnake. An admirable decision from Eric, first of all to acknowledge and publicly mention this but also to find a way to still deliver and despite everything, his distinct style and tones still filled the venue, captivating the audience with every word and his enthusiasm and energy on stage as the front man really got the crowd involved and singing along to pretty much every classic hit all night long.

Paul Gilbert's guitar work was a sight to behold, showcasing his technical prowess and showmanship with incredibly complex and blissful sounding licks. Billy Sheehan's intricate bass lines added depth and complexity to the music, himself a stage stealing showman swapping out to a dual necked instrument as the need arose, his mastery of his craft is incredible to behold and like all members of the band, they put on a show that is so much more than just a play through of the music and is so engaging, feeding off the energy of the packed out crowd and giving a performance like nothing else. Nick D'Virgilio does a fine job filling very big shoes on the drums for the sadly departed Pat Torpey.

Enthusiasm, energy and excitement are I think the key takings from this evening. Its also credit to the band who, some 30 plus years ago, crafted songs that earned their following and that have stood the test of time, still sounding as incredible and as engaging as when they were released. It’s so sad that Pat Torpey is alas no longer with us, taken far too soon and yet this tour has been an incredible tribute in his honour, if this genuinely maybe The Big Finish, Mr Big have proven that their legacy lives on and will forever.

Photo Credit: Scott Clarke Photography

Photo credits: Scott Clarke Photography

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