We (me and my wife) just got back from watching MR. BIG in Jakarta, Indonesia. We are considered native so it's not that 'special' if you think about it. The concert was part of The 90's Festival, so it's not a standalone gig. The tickets were bought by my wife as a birthday gift last May, and we both agreed that our main goal is to watch MR. BIG (it's a 2-day music festival) though there are other headliners such as The Cardigans, 911, and Rick Price. Other local and national bands/singers was also part of the lineup but we have our priorities straight.
Long story short, the concert was AMAZING! Admittedly, MR. BIG is already way past their prime in 2023. Their latest album was back in 2017 and even then, their reunion back in 2009 (Paul Gilbert returned) was like the real last 'straw'. Anyway, my experience with MR. BIG is like an on-and-off relationship. Their first album "MR. BIG" is the real introduction for me and music. Got it as a gift from my uncle back in 1996, this particular CD (Compact Disc for you millennials) and Discman (like Walkman, but for CD) that I got really opened up my eyes -and ears- to something that I never thought could enjoy; loud music but with meaningful sound and lyrics.
Yeah, back when we actually need the album cover to read the lyrics and sing alongside the song (no Spotify or YouTube Music), you can say, that MR. BIG taught me English. Songs like Addicted to That Rush; Wind Me Up; Rock & Roll Over; and Anything for You has stuck to my mind and 27 years later, my memories truly serves me right.
Unfortunately, the BIG FINISH (theme of the tour) means MR. BIG would play the "Lean Into It" album in its entirety (released in 1991) though they added some other songs to the playlist in the concert. It has To Be With You and Just Take My Heart on the album so it's understandable why they chose that as the theme. Back to the story, the concert opened with Addicted to That Rush which made me really hyped-up! At the moment, it was like I'm back to my 13 years old self and head-banging while singing with air guitar. It was magnificent. Only when the song was over that I'm finally remember that I'm already a father of a 5-years old daughter and I 'actually' went to the concert with my wife..
The concert went on with the Lean Into It set-list and I still can't wrap my head on how a 62 years old Eric Martin could still sing, jump, and even "scream" into our hearts for approximately two hours. The concert started at around 10:05 PM and only ended a couple minutes after midnight. During the concert, it's quite obvious that most people there don't even know most of the songs they played. I kinda argued with my wife afterwards that the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) mentality that plagued most generations played a big part with most of the audiences. It's more often than not that Eric looked kinda disappointed with how the crowd went. Besides the two songs that I mentioned before, only when they played Green-Tinted Sixties Mind was the moment where the crowds go 'wild' during the regular set-list.
During the performance, when Eric 'introduced' the other members in the group -including Nick D'Virgilio who replaced the late Pat Torpey on Drums-, the response was lackluster to say the least. Eric himself mentioned that he -usually- could get a breather since the applause and the constant woo or hell yeah or anything yelled from the crowds would played out for minutes, but not that night.
Just like I mentioned before, MR. BIG is already way past their prime, at least in terms of fame and popularity. The small proof that I could gave was the two taxi driver that brought us there and back to home didn't even know who MR. BIG is when they asked what concert that we went to. Not to mentioned the 'audiences' that left the concert way before the last song was played. Admittedly, MR. BIG isn't for everyone and the festival is a testament for that. The theme for the festival was 1990's nostalgia so it's a given that most performers playing at the event was popular back in the 90s and most kids today won't even able to name a song or even the artist when they heard a popular song from then. (I felt kinda old saying this)
Don't get me wrong, they could still compete with any, and I really mean ANY, current band or musical groups in terms of musical prowess, technic, showmanship, vocal range, and the huge spirit of entertaining thousands of music goers. Their energy is raw and unadulterated and it's pure joy to watch them perform, especially since this is my first time watching them live on stage. MR. BIG is not a studio album artist, they are a true performer and Eric, Paul, and Billy really showed it last night.
I kinda kicked myself last night since from their NINE studio albums, I think I only listened to SIX of them; though 3 of them can be 100% said that I listened 'religiously'.
As a fan, I kinda hoped they would pick their really
popular 'best' one. I'm sure the crowds that night would know songs like Anything For You (my personal fav), and Goin' Where the Wind Blows. But I'm honestly quite satisfied when they played Colorado Bulldog because I saw most people that night don't even yell COLOOORADOOOO BULLLDOOG with me.
What really soothe my mind was seeing all of them enjoying themselves. The rotation play, guitar and bass solo interlude, and the occasional 'tease' from Eric to the crowd were really really satisfying. Paul, being the youngest in the group, really
played handled the guitar like he is still in his 30's. But the best part is Billy was just being Billy. A 70-years old Bassist who won Best Rock Bass Player for FIVE times in the past could still handle his favorite Yamaha or even the double-neck Bass real good (if not perfect).
Lastly, MR. Nick D'Virgilio himself. I can't say that he got an easy job to go on tour with the group who was really attached to Pat Torpey. But I believe Eric when he said that Nick did an amazing job during the tour and it's not easy, he really got a big shoes to fill.
Seeing all of them play for more than two freakin' hours really worth the time and money we (my wife) spent. We arrived at around eight thirty that night and didn't even bother to check other performers and straight went for dinner (the festival starts at noon). It can be said that night was a really really big finish, a true farewell. This is a chapter that is closed on our book, especially me who grew up listening and spent most of my teen life to them.
Thanks to my uncle and especially a very special thanks to my wife for a special birthday gift.