Gig Review: Extreme & Mr. Big @ Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane

Headliner: Extreme

Support: Mr. Big

Venue: Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane

Date: Friday 1st June 2018

Review: Jay Kleinschmidt

Photos: Tam Schilling (TamCamImages)

Brisbane fans were not disappointed last night with the big act double header of Mr. Big and Extreme at Eatons Hill. Whether it’s the rocking riffs, the cheesy ballads or the flamboyant hairstyles of a bygone era, this concert delivered it all in spades and more. It's easy to forget sometimes that behind the radio-friendly tunes that we all know and love there is a lineup of exceptional musical talent, and it was on full display last night. Some of the artists last night have played with other musicians of a caliber worthy of the highest praise, whether it be Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) playing with Steve Vai or Gary Cherone (Extreme) fronting Van Halen; both these bands contain exceptional talent. Also of note is that it has been 27 years since Extreme have played on Australian shores so their return has been highly anticipated.

Mr. Big started the night playing a variety of old stuff whilst playing songs off their new album, Defying Gravity. The standout track from their latest album was Everybody Needs a Little Trouble. The band also payed homage to late drummer, Pat Torpey, who succumbed to complications from Parkinson's disease in February. More recent drummer, Matt Starr, who has taken over drumming duties since 2014, slotted in nicely.

When it finally came time for the song everyone was waiting for - To Be with You - the crowd erupted. Billy Sheehan's bass prowess and Paul Gilbert's guitar shredding was put on the back-burner for this ballad while the crowd chanted every word. While this song doesn't showcase the band members' technical abilities, it is clear from the audience participation just why this song was such a big hit for them back in the early 90s. However, at the this point in the show Eric's vocals did seem to tire a bit. Both this song and their cover of "Wild World" by Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) was, in this author's opinion, their weakest songs of the set as they are easily overshadowed by their electric songs. Their set was otherwise a tight, rocking set and performed by a really tight band and left everyone pumped for Extreme.

Given that Extreme haven't toured Australia for 27 years, and without a new album to support, we all came to expect the band to play all their best hits, and they did. Most of the set contained songs from the first three albums and predominantly from their second album, Extreme II: Pornograffitti. This was the album that made them international superstars and it was only fitting to play as many tracks from this album as possible, considering that not long ago they were celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Starting off the set was "It's a Monster" and the crowd went off. Following were "Li'l Jack Horny" and "Get the Funk Out". The band were in top form; Gary's vocals and energy were outstanding; Nuno's shredding was crisp and tight. The stage presence of these two is unreal as they are terrific showman. Pat's presence on bass was also outstanding but he tends to sit back behind Gary and Nuno who dominate the stage. Kevin's drumming was tight and, although he remained faithful to Paul Geary's drumming off the original albums, he also brought a style and percussiveness of his own flavour.

Nuno's showmanship ramped up even further when the band played "Play with Me". The solo is known to be blisteringly quick and everybody had their phones out ready to record when the solo part was approaching. Yet, he teased us all by jumping on percussions and jamming with Kevin, heightening everyone's anticipation. When the solo finally came he delivered the goods to the roar of the crowd.

As always, Gary's and Nuno's singing and harmonising abilities were showcased with megahit "More Than Words", although I will say they don't seem to sing the first verse these days, the crowd does that part. You could barely hear their singing over the audience for this song as it is such a fan favourite.

They finished the night with "Decadence Dance" and thanked the audience by jumping the barrier and shaking everybody's hands. Let's hope they don't take another 27 years to come back to Australia. The night was a real treat for both the nostalgic rocker fans and anyone who can appreciate top musicians doing what they do. It was an excellent way for Mr. Big to support their new album and fans will be eagerly awaiting Extreme's return to Australia. Great night, guys, and we can't wait to have you back!

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