Justin’s Japan: Mr. Big Returns with ‘Defying Gravity’

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Sometimes a band has something special that makes it transcend its own culture, creating a whole new tradition in a completely different place.

Since 1989, this has been the case with Mr. Big, the American hard rock quartet that mixes metallic virtuosity with melodic appeal. Best known for their international smash ballad “To Be with You” (a number one pop U.S. hit in 1992), the band has continued to enjoy massive success in Japan, having played over 100 large-scale concerts there to date and continuing to serve as an influence on Japan’s own music scene and its top artists.

Mr. Big’s drummer Pat Torpey and bassist Billy Sheehan have previously performed with Japan’s all-time most successful rock group B’z (with the latter even joining them on tour); lead singer Eric Martin has recorded a successful string of “Mr. Vocalist” albums consisting of songs originally made famous by female Japanese singers; and guitarist Paul Gilbert has appeared on Japanese talk shows displaying both his tremendous guitar chops and dedicated study of the language.

In a new tradition, the U.S. will get the first taste of all-new Mr. Big material as the group launches a 13-date national tour beginning May 31, with a New York stop at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on June 10. The tour precedes the release of the group’s ninth studio album, “Defying Gravity,” available July 7 on Frontiers Records. The new songs will presumably make their live debut at these special American gigs.

For tickets to the show and more information, visit www.bbkingblues.com and www.mrbigsite.com.

Also on June 10 at 12:00 p.m., An Intimate Afternoon of Conversation and Music with Mr. Big will take place at The Cutting Room (44 East 32nd Street), featuring a longform interview with author and journalist Brad Tolinsk. This special event includes an opportunity for audience questions, a short acoustic performance, and a meet and greet. Tickets are $25; for more information, click here.

Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment since 2005. For more of his stories, visit http://jetaany.org/magazine.