Watch: MR. BIG Plays First Concert In Japan In Six Years
July 21, 2023
MR. BIG played its second concert with new touring drummer Nick D'Virgilio last night (Thursday, July 20) at Nippon Tokushu Tougyou Shimin Kaikan, Forest Hall in Nagoya, Japan. Fan-filmed video of the show, which marked MR. BIG's first appearance in Japan in six years, can be seen below.
MR. BIG's first-ever concert with D'Virgilio took place last Sunday, July 16 at the Majiao Music Festival in China.
The band's setlist for the Majiao Music Festival gig was as follows, according to Setlist.fm:
01. Addicted To That Rush 02. Take Cover 03. Undertow 04. Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (THE ELECTRIC DRILL song) 05. Alive And Kickin' 06. Green-Tinted Sixties Mind 07. CDFF-Lucky This Time (Jeff Paris cover) (first time since May 15, 1992) 08. Voodoo Kiss (first time since 2016) 09. Never Say Never 10. Just Take My Heart 11. My Kinda Woman (first time since 1992) 12. A Little Too Loose (first time since 2011) 13. Road To Ruin (first time since 2011) 14. To Be With You 15. Guitar Solo 16. Colorado Bulldog 17. Bass Solo 18. Shy Boy (TALAS cover) 19. Wild World (Cat Stevens cover) 20. 30 Days In The Hole (HUMBLE PIE cover)
21. Good Lovin' (THE RASCALS cover) (Paul Gilbert on drums, Billy Sheehan on vocals, Eric Martin on bass and Nick D'Virgilio on guitar)
In a April 2023 interview with Border City Rock Talk, D'Virgilio spoke about how he landed the gig as MR. BIG's new touring drummer, five years after the passing of the band's co-founder, Pat Torpey. The 54-year-old Nick, who has spent the last nine years working for the Indiana-based online retailer of music instruments and audio gear Sweetwater, said: "It stemmed through Sweetwater. I've known Paul [Gilbert, MR. BIG guitarist]; Paul was the one guy I knew most. I met Pat, and I met Billy [Sheehan, MR. BIG bassist] — Gosh — at a music trade show back in the day. And I was definitely a fan of the band. I listened to a lot of Pat's drumming way before I ever met him in person. But at Sweetwater, we do a lot of recording workshops and we get artists in to come and people pay to come to the studio and hang in the studio with the artists that come in. Paul does it quite a bit; he's been there a bunch. Billy was there a while back as well, but Paul's been there a number of times. And I've been able to play as his rhythm section for these recording workshops. And I also had Paul play on a song on my solo record called 'Invisible' that I put out in 2020. Through all of this stuff, we got to just jamming some more stuff. And I know Paul through Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse and a lot of circles of musicians. After the last thing we did at Sweetwater, Paul just sent me an e-mail and asked if I would be interested in going on tour with MR. BIG in Asia. Now, this was last July, when he first sent me the e-mail, so nine, 10 months ago or so. And I immediately said 'yes'. I think I said 'fuck yes', all in bold letters… So then I went sort of hog wild here in my studio and I videotaped and multi-tracked my drums. I kind of just went hog wild, sending back these demos of me playing and then singing all the parts. So I sang the lead vocal, and then I sang Pat's parts too. Since [it was an] audition, I figured I'd put my best foot forward. Long story short, they said, 'Yeah, we'd love to do it. And you're in,' basically. So that's kind of how it all happened. It came out of the blue."
D'Virgilio went on to say that he is looking forward to performing with MR. BIG on the band's worldwide tour, aptly titled "The BIG Finish", which will take the band to Japan and Southeast Asia in July and August, while shows in South America, Europe, and the U.S. will launch in early 2024.
"You've been in this music business for a long time. Especially as you get older, the phone doesn't ring as often," he said. "I live in Indiana now. I'm not in California and L.A. where I grew up. So I have a great job, but I'm not where all the action is all the time. So the phone doesn't ring quite like that, maybe like it used to 10, 20 years ago, so it was super exciting to get that e-mail from Paul."
As a session musician and touring artist, Nick has worked with many different kinds of artists and bands, from TEARS FOR FEARS, Sheryl Crow and Kevin Gilbert to Peter Gabriel and Eric Burdon and the ANIMALS. In 1996, Nick took Phil Collins's place in GENESIS and played on their "Calling All Stations" album. He has also carved out a major presence in the progressive rock world with his bands, SPOCK'S BEARD and BIG BIG TRAIN.
Before joining the Sweetwater team, Nick spent almost five years touring with Cirque Du Soleil's "Totem" as drummer, vocalist, and assistant bandleader.
When D'Virgilio's addition to MR. BIG was first announced in March, Sheehan said in a statement: "We found a wonderful drummer in Nick, and he's got a great voice too. Nick has a vocal range similar to Pat's, and he'll be able to do the parts Pat did with a similar finesse. It's a big relief because MR. BIG has always been heavy on the harmonies. When the band began, we really relied on each other. We knew each guy would do exactly what he needed to do vocally and to do it righteously, on key, and in time. It's difficult to find a drummer who sings in that range, but Nick has the voice we really need onstage."
Gilbert concurred, saying: "Nick gets close to the spirit of Pat Torpey. Billy, Eric [Martin, vocals] and I have been really happy with the music we've already shared back and forth. I'm impressed with Nick's level of musical adaptability and breadth of skill. He and I have done some recording together, and I was blown away with his groove, and how he just played what fit the song. If the song requires him to be more progressive and stand out, he will stand out. But if the song requires him to groove, he will groove. That's actually a rare thing, and it really fits in with what we do in MR. BIG."
Martin added: "I love the fact that Nick was a fan of Pat Torpey and wants to keep our BIG sound intact. When I first saw his audition demo video of the 'Lean Into It' song 'Lucky This Time', Nick was playing drums with those signature Pat snare hits and singing harmonies spot on to what Pat used to do. It gave me goosebumps!! I am so thrilled to have this man who will be filling some mighty BIG shoes join us on our last tour."
MR. BIG's final tour will see the band performing the entirety of its breakthrough platinum-selling 1991 album "Lean Into It" from start to finish as a featured highlight of the live setlist.
"We wanted to do a proper farewell, and this seems like the right way to do it," Sheehan said. Gilbert added: "We're in the process of making sure we come up with a suitably big entertainment extravaganza to go along with our music. And since our music has resonated so wonderfully in places all over the world, we're going to play in as many of those places as we can." Martin stated: "If we were in the movie business, we'd just put it all up in lights and say, 'Welcome to 'The BIG Finish'!' Seriously, I'm glad we're getting a chance to do it all onstage together as MR. BIG again and raise a flag to everything we've done as a band over the years."
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