jakub | January 26, 2024

Mr. Big Lives Large at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, January 23, 2024


Located in the eclectic downtown Atlanta neighborhood of Little Five Points, the Variety Playhouse welcomed Los Angeles rockers Mr. Big to town on a gloomy and chilly Tuesday night. Established in 1940, this converted World War II-era movie theater has been a local cornerstone of live entertainment for decades, with an enjoyable mix of raised, theater-style seats set directly behind a general admission floor for flexible audience viewing of their favorite touring artists. Fortunately for Mr. Big’s Georgia fans, the concert proceeded as planned following a postponement of the prior Sunday show in Clearwater, Florida, due to an announced illness.

Billed as “An Evening With,” early concert goers were welcomed into the venue to defrost shortly after 7:00pm to a stage already set up with the band’s instruments and a giant Mr. Big backdrop. Absent an opening act, the house lights dimmed shortly after 8:30pm over a near capacity crowd to Mr. Big’s intro music. The band, anchored by founding members Eric Martin (lead vocals), Billy Sheehan (bass), and Paul Gilbert (guitar), then took to the stage and launched into fan-favorite “Addicted to that Rush,” the lead track off their 1989 self-titled debut. With the passing of the band’s original drummer and co-founder Pat Torpey back in 2018 to Parkinson’s disease, Mr. Big is now rounded out by Nick D’Virgilio on drums.

Fittingly titled “The BIG Finish,” this final worldwide tour includes Mr. Big performing the entirety of its platinum-selling second studio album Lean Into It, in order, from start to finish during their set. Embarrassingly I have somehow missed catching Mr. Big live over the years, and if this was my only chance, I couldn’t have been more impressed. Martin’s vocal delivery flowed effortlessly throughout the 11 tracks from their 1991 release, only bolstered by the amazing harmonies continuously provided by Sheehan and Gilbert. The highlights for me included “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” and “Just Take My Heart,” but of course the Lean Into It portion of the setlist was closed out by their chart-topping tune “To Be with You,” which brought out a sea of audience cell phones into the air to capture the moment.

Aside from performing “Colorado Bulldog” off their third studio album Bump Ahead (1993), the back third of the show was filled with familiar cover tunes and spectacular solos by both Gilbert and Sheehan. Prior to playing “30 Days in the Hole,” the Humble Pie cover that was included as the last track on the band’s first album, Martin joked that his kids call it “the album with the hat and shoes.” Immediately following, and now with Gilbert on drums, D’Virgilio on guitar, Martin on bass, and Sheeham taking the microphone, the band delivered an enjoyable, sing-along cover performance of “Good Lovin'” by The Olympics. Rather than walking off for any encore, the band simply put a punctuation mark on the night by wrapping up their energetic set with “Baba O’Riley” by The Who.

The band then thanked their Atlanta fans for 35 years of support, with Sheehan joking that the city has been good to them over the years, “except when Paul got his hair caught in the drill when they were opening for Rush at The Omni (in 1990).” Following a handful of band bows and stage photos, the house lights came on, closing the books on Mr. Big’s (final?) visit to Atlanta.

As currently scheduled, The BIG Finish Tour will continue its trek across America through Wednesday, May 29th, wrapping up at the Ludlow Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following a short break, Mr. Big will then pick up an overseas jaunt, starting at the Maid of Stone Festival in Maidstone, United Kingdom, on Sunday, July 21st.


Mr. Big

Paul Gilbert — Guitar, vocals
Billy Sheehan — Bass, vocals
Eric Martin — Lead vocals
Nick D’Virgilio — Drums, vocals





1.) Addicted to That Rush
2.) Take Cover
3.) Undertow

[Start Lean Into It]
4.) Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)
5.) Alive and Kickin’
6.) Green-Tinted Sixties Mind
7.) CDFF-Lucky This Time (Jeff Paris cover)
8.) Voodoo Kiss
9.) Never Say Never
10.) Just Take My Heart
11.) My Kinda Woman
12.) A Little Too Loose
13.) Road to Ruin
14.) To Be With You
[End Lean Into It]

15.) Wild World (Cat Stevens cover)
16.) Guitar solo
17.) Colorado Bulldog
18.) Bass solo
19.) Shy Boy (Talas cover)
20.) 30 Days in the Hole (Humble Pie cover)
21.) Good Lovin’ (The Olympics cover)
22.) Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)







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