Eric Martin with support from Pat McManus
Sunday 3rd March 2013 – Auntie Annie’s Belfast
I felt like a teenager again when I first heard Eric Martin of Mr Big fame was playing at Auntie Annie’s. Flashback to the early 90’s and you would find ‘To Be With You.’ On repeat on my stereo, oh those were the days. So with giddy excitement I headed to Annie’s and it was then I realised just how intimate this intimate gig was going to be.
This was Eric Martin’s first visit to Belfast and also his debut UK acoustic performance, supported by local legend Pat Mc Manus who would also deliver a first; his own totally acoustic set. McManus opened his set with ‘Blacklisted’ played on the Bazouki, when technical issues brought laughs aplenty with McManus joking that the microphone must have felt his nervousness. The humour continued between songs which included ‘Lettin’ Go’, ‘Same Old Story’, ‘Runaway Dreams’ and ending with ‘The Oldest Rocker in Town’ and ‘Needle in the Groove.’ With the audience showing their approval of McManus’ set by many handshakes and pats on the back as he left the stage.
When Eric Martin first walked on stage and lifted his guitar it took the audience a moment to realise that this wasn’t just another stage hand but the great man himself, gone was the power hair of the 80’s but once the crowd realised it was the man himself they reacted with obvious affection being lavished on the man himself. The set was a mix of Martin’s own solo work, a mix of covers and of course the mandatory Mr Big hits. Throughout the set he mixed stories and jokes in-between his songs. And his declaration that he would be there til Monday after a heckler demanded ‘To Be With You’ was met with laughs by all.
The crowd were treated with renditions of ‘Superfantastic’ and one of his favourite songs to play: ‘My New Religion.’ ‘Voodoo Kiss’ and ‘Rose Alone’ were sumptuous but it was ‘Wild World’ with some assistance by the audience which almost raised the roof. It was an amazing experience to be a part of. The laughs continued after Martin complained he could no longer feel his legs after downing a Bushmills in one. He called McManus on stage and joined the crowd to watch him perform once more. But for us fans there would only be one end to the night and even this had a twist as Martin invited Connor Kerr a student from Queens’ who while interviewing him earlier, cheekily asked him if he could join him on stage. As ‘To Be With You’ began the audience once again joined in singing every word. Instead of disappearing off into the night with a farewell Belfast, Mr Martin spent the next hour making sure the audience got whatever photographs and autographs they wanted showing just what a legend this man is. I may see many gigs this year but it will take an awful lot to touch that night. I mean C’mon how many gigs do you walk out of feeling 22 years younger!!!!