February 18, 2016 Mr Big’s Eric Martin Returns Home To Long Island, NY 2-5-16
Widely known as the distinctive vocalist of band Mr. Big, Eric Martin has been a part of the Rock-n-Roll scene almost four decades now. A veteran at his craft, Martin has spent time in a handful of bands, released material solo, but has enjoyed his more prominent success with the aforementioned Mr. Big. Following the 2002 Mr. Big farewell tour, Martin continued to create his own music, lending his talents to various projects, and further enjoying a successful solo career. Then, after seven years, the guys in Mr. Big rekindled their band, releasing two albums since, 2011’s What If… and 2014’s …The Stories We Could Tell, toured internationally, and restored the magic they once had. A great time for Martin, spending time fronting Mr. Big once again, he has also continued to dabble in other projects, including his 2012 album Mr. Rock Vocalist, and yes, tour solo.
Now in 2016, he is performing a string of shows across the US which began in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7th while scheduled to end on February 20th in Illinois. Amidst his travels, Martin would stop at a place he once called home, Long Island, NY. While his family settled in the San Francisco, CA area by the time he was a teenager, he surely has fond childhood memories of Long Island. With that in mind, on Friday, February 5th, after a rash of Winter snow storms rolled over the East Coast, snow and ice did little to deter fans of Mr. Big and Martin from streaming into Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville village for a night of good music and fun.
Local band The Heartless Devils kicked off the night with straight-ahead Rock-n-Roll. Performing songs from their upcoming EP, as well as songs from their collection, the Devils put forth a strong set including covers of MC5’s “Kick out the Jams” and The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” The crowd was treated to a great Rock show as Guitarist Scott Bittner, Bassist Blaine Horn, Drummer James Rosario, and Guitarist Cube proved to be a solid unit churning out song after song of heavy Rock-n-Roll to kick things off.
Next was another New Yorker, Singer/Songwriter/Producer Mick James. When James appeared on stage in a coffin surrounded by tombstones and his band, it was quickly apparent that the crowd was in for a treat. Sound effects and backing tracks created the atmosphere as guitarist and bassist, both cloaked figures, played from behind cemetery fences. James’ credits include writing music for the popular Illusionist Criss Angel TV series, Criss Angel Mindfreak, and the WWE. With the crowd growing, James performed songs from his 2014 solo album, Mick James is Dead. Projecting his own unique style, everyone gathered to watch James rock out with his dreadlocks and black-eyed make-up. By the end of his Heavy Rock set, James had amassed a sizable crowd in front of the stage.
Moving along, another Long Island band by the name of No Angelz was ready to go. Lead Vocalist Bob Weir stood at the edge of the stage as people moved towards him. Maybe it was the black cowboy hat atop his head, or just his presence, but along with Guitarist Pete Mangiameli, Bassist Paul Vassa, and Drummer John McMahon, the band successfully held them there. They began with The Who’s “Eminence Front” before rolling through original songs “I Don’t Mind,” “Deja Vu,” and a song about love and loss, “Falling Down.” The crowd responded with loud applause to the original music as their solid Blues guitar work, along with gritty vocals, made No Angelz a winner.
The last of supporting acts, Amityville’s own Craving Strange, like Eric Martin, returned home to a tremendous amount of support. Vocalist Jimmy G thanked the crowd often, and talked candidly about the local scene and the band’s appreciation of it. He thanked the other bands who were a part of the show while Lead Guitarist Frank “Junior,” Drummer Jimi Tassone, and Bassist Mike Talento showed their appreciation by pumping out tune after catchy tune, full of great hooks and sing along sections, that had the crowd eagerly waiting for their turn to sing. Female fans were strongly represented and their screams could be heard after every song. Performing songs from 2009’s Savior Self, 2013’s EP Angeline, 2014’s A Life Exceptional, as well as their latest, 2015’s Besides, the band had everyone moving. A great set, it was “Complicated” that had the biggest pop, receiving strong participation from the crowd. Craving Strange showed the crowd a fun time that made them glad they braved the cold to come out to Revolution.
Finally, the voice of Mr. Big, Eric Martin, took the stage in front of the waiting crowd with his band of Bassist Chaz Butcher, Drummer Jeff Tortora, and Guitarist Smiling Howie Simon. Coming prepared to deliver the Mr. Big experience to a Long Island crowd, the room was warm and cozy despite the temperature outside. Tapping the newest Mr. Big offering, Martin started with “Gotta Love the Ride,” a high-energy opener from …The Stories We Could Tell. Then, Martin showed a more conservative look, belting out “Kings for a Day” from the the all-star band Tak Matsumoto Group 2004 debut, TMG1. For those unfamiliar, Tak Matsumoto Group originated in Japan, consisting of Martin on vocals, Night Ranger’s Jack Blade on bass, and the accomplished Brian Tichy on drums. It certainly was a rare treat and the crowd seemed to dig it. Moving forward, Martin delivered a couple of songs from Mr. Big’s breakthrough record, 1991’s Lean Into It. It all starting with “Alive and Kickin,” a hard-hitting crowd favorite, followed by the groovy, heavy track “Voodoo Kiss” with its soulful lyrics. Then, showcasing great harmonies with a mellow laid back vibe was “Superfantastic,” from Mr. Big’s 1999 release Get Over It.
Martin stayed with the mellow acoustic theme to perform a cover of Cat Steven’s classic “Wild World.” He asked for the crowds help as he sang and strummed his acoustic, holding the crowd firmly in the palm of his hand; they were happy to participate on the iconic song. Keeping spirits high, “Promise Her the Moon,” from 1993’s Bump Ahead, was followed by their second biggest single to date from Lean Into It, “Just Take My Heart,” a song which had the entire room singing along with hands in the air. Balancing things out, 1996’s Hey Man spawned “Out of the Underground” while 1993’s “Temperamental” brought back the heavy groove, getting the crowd moving.
Keeping everyone excited and most importantly interested in the performance, there was a unified buzz of excitement as Martin introduced “To Be with You” with an obvious fondness. Mr. Big’s Massive hit caused the room to fill with everyone’s voices singing each and every word. That amazing moment had Martin, his band, and the audience all smiles as the set wound down with “Dancin’ with My Devils” and “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)” closing things out.
A great night of Hard Rock on a snowy Winter night concluded as Eric Martin put on a thoroughly entertaining show with selections from Mr. Big’s catalog, along with songs from his solo works, crafting an overall experience that delighted all in attendance. Martin performed with passion as he engaged the audience with humor and his larger than life personality. There is an old saying, “There is no place like home,” and Martin proved he always has a home when returning to Long Island.