LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM
It seems that all previous pains in the Mr. Big camp have been forgotten. Mr. Big returned last year with a great album, tour, and now a fairly intimate acoustic live album called LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM. It's good to see. This band that was always strong on musicianship might be the band of all bands best suited to do an unplugged set. Not only are their songs very condusive to this kind of setting, but they are so far superior a class of musicians than the average band that attempts to try this. They aren't hacks like Poison who just sound awkward when performing the songs outside of the defined box of their original recordings.
Not surprisingly, LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM was recorded in Japan, where Mr. Big are The Beatles. The crowd is receptive to this intimate setting, as they should be. In short, the performances from all members of the band are exceptional. Vocalist Eric Martin sounds every bit as strong as he ever has, and his voice sounds almost like it does on recorded work. Be it newer songs like "Still Ain't Enough For Me" or the classic "To Be With You", Martin's singing is both engaging and soulful. He's not the most impressive here though. That award goes to legendary bassist Billy Sheehan and guitarist Paul Gilbert. The two may not be plugged in and loud, but their ability to play is anything but hampered in the stripped down setting. Both sound great throughout, and both play far more than you might expect from a non-electric set. Sheehan himself throws down several solos throughout which is interesting here, while Gilbert plays his acoustic with more of a countrified flavor than his normal rocked up chops allow for. Even on mid-tempo tracks like "As Far As I Can See", the murmur of Sheehan's bass just tears through the bottom end of the sound; almost like a lead guitarist might normally provide. He and drummer Pat Torpey do far more than simply keep the beat for Martin and Gilbert. It's impressive to say the least.
PITRIFF RATING - 88/100 - What can you really say about a Mr. Big acoustic live album? It's tighter than the average band could ever hope to be musically. The musicians play to perfection. Eric Martin sings perfectly. Their always impressive harmonizing is as stong as it ever was. In short, Mr. Big provide what they always do - something impressive, professional and fun. It works.