Categories articles

Article: Chief Mechanic (Gearphoria Magazine)

Photo via Gearphoria.

Mike was interviewed by Alison Richter for Gearphoria volume 5, number 5 (May/June 2017).

Mike Rutherford is backstage in an arena in a “very cold, wet Scotland,” calling before show time to talk about the new Mike + The Mechanics album, Let Me Fly. It’s the band’s first new project in six years, and he is quite satisfied with the results. “I’m pleased with the album,” he says. “I think it’s got a strength to it. How it does, we’ll see.”

Rutherford began thinking about a new album while The Mechanics were touring their 2011 release, The Road. “On that album we didn’t really know each other,” he says. “We were sort of feeling our way. This time it was a lot easier because I knew Andrew and Tim’s voices and I knew the kind of songs I wanted them to sing – or I had an idea, anyway.”

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Categories live photos reviews

Review: Mike + The Mechanics in New York City

Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar at the Highline Ballroom.

Review by Katherine Stratton for MR Net, photos by Scott Saldinger.

Mike + The Mechanics made their first appearance in the US since their 2015 tour at the end of April, playing two shows in and around New York City. The first, a television taping for the series Front and Center, took place on April 21 as a part of the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival at the House of Independents in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The second show on April 23 was at New York’s Highline Ballroom, an intimate venue which has previously featured artists such as Adele, Stevie Wonder and Rihanna.

As opposed to the theatres the band had been playing on their UK tour in February/March, these venues were much smaller, with capacities of about 250-400 people and a mix of seated and standing room. An interesting aspect of the Highline Ballroom show was that in addition to sections being seated, there was also a dinner service. Between the television taping of the first show and the dine-in experience of the second, it was going to be interesting to see what effects those would have on the shows overall.

Mike + The Mechanics at Asbury Park’s House of Independents.

The Front and Center taping began with an introduction by one of the show’s producers, letting us know what we were in for and about the potential for having to stop and start the show in order to get things just right. The audience were also asked to do a few reaction shots before the band even came out, applauding as if the band were on stage and between songs.

Once the show actually got underway, it was relatively easy to forget the cameras were there for the most part. The only time the taping interfered was when band had to do ‘Over My Shoulder’ a second time in its entirety, which was a nice treat for us if not for them.

The set list did not differ too heavily from the UK tour, with the absence of ‘Cuddly Toy’ and the addition of the single ‘Don’t Know What Came Over Me’ (the latter was performed at a few dates on the UK tour, but was not a regular fixture). The band also forewent the solos they had been including during the encores. Perhaps it is the nature of recording something for the small screen that means the sound and performances are necessarily a bit more contained, but the small size of the venue meant that that did not feel out of place and indeed I did not even truly notice a difference until I heard them again on Sunday.

Andrew Roachford at the House of Independents.

Apart from the need to do another take of ‘Over My Shoulder’, the show flowed as well as it had during the tour. The acoustic interlude for ‘High Life’ and ‘Wonder’ remains a high point of the show for me, and worked especially well in the intimate setting, a setting which later lent itself just as easily to the intensity and energy of ‘I Can’t Dance’ and ‘All I Need is a Miracle’. By the end of the set, those who were seated weren’t anymore and ended the show by enthusing to those next to them about the performance. It bodes well that among those being very enthusiastic was the show’s producer.

Tim Howar at the Highline Ballroom.

The show at the Highline Ballroom was next on the agenda, and I will admit that I did have some reservations about how it might turn out due entirely to the impending dine-in experience. It was difficult to imagine being able to completely get into the show while someone was leaning over you to ask how you wanted your steak cooked, but in the end those worries were ill-founded. At least at our table much of the ordering and eating were already finished by the time the band even came onstage and the staff did a good job of not disrupting views later on.

Mike Rutherford and Anthony Drennan at the Highline Ballroom.

In contrast to the Asbury Park show which was more contained and polished, this show felt more relaxed.  All of the members of the band had an amazing energy for this show, letting loose more than they had even during some of the UK shows, and being a bit more improvisational. The sound was incredible, both from the band and from the audience reactions. I had never heard Tim so dynamic, which is saying a lot. One of the best things about this band is how much fun they seem to have together, and on this night it really felt as if we were also a part of that camaraderie as an audience. There were the usual shouts for ‘Supper’s Ready!’ but it was nice to hear a shout in there for ‘The Letter’ as well.

The only down side to this show was the time constraint (there was an event taking place directly afterwards), which perhaps led to the need to cut ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ from the set. All in all, though, for a Sunday night, it was an intensely good time.

The Mechanics’ episode of Front and Center is set to air in January (source). You can see the band supporting Phil Collins this summer in Dublin and Hyde Park, and they will be on the road in Europe this September. For all dates and tickets check the tour tab or visit mikeandthemechanics.com.

Asbury Park set list:

Are You Ready?
Get Up
Silent Running
Another Cup of Coffee
Save the World
The Best is Yet to Come
Land of Confusion
High Life
Wonder
Let Me Fly
Don’t Know What Came Over Me
I Can’t Dance
Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Over My Shoulder
Over My Shoulder take 2
Living Years
All I Need is a Miracle
Encore: Word of Mouth

Highline Ballroom set list:

Are You Ready?
Get Up
Silent Running
Save the World
The Best is Yet to Come
Land of Confusion
High Life
Wonder
Let Me Fly
Don’t Know What Came Over Me
I Can’t Dance
Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Over My Shoulder
Living Years
All I Need is a Miracle
Encore: Word of Mouth

Categories tours

Ben McKelvey to support Mike + The Mechanics on their European tour in September

Ben McKelvey will be joining Mike + The Mechanics on tour once more this September!

Ben has recently released his new EP ‘One For the Road’, which is available now on his website and on iTunes.

The tour kicks off on September 1st in Copenhagen and runs for the entire month with dates in Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Check out the tour tab for dates and tickets.

 

Categories live

Mike + The Mechanics to play Asbury Park Festival for broadcast on US show Front And Center

Mike + The Mechanics will be performing on April 21, 2017 at the House of Independents in Asbury Park, New Jersey as part of the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival. The show will be filmed for broadcast on a future episode of the American public television program Front And Center.

There will only be around 250 tickets available, ranging in price from $35-$125. Tickets are on sale now from the festival website apmff.com.

You can read more about the festival and the Mechanics’ appearance on the Asbury Park Press website.

Categories audio VIDEOS

Audio: Mike + The Mechanics live on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show

matmradio2

Photo via BBC Radio 2

Mike + The Mechanics performed live on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 Friday, March 17th. The four songs they played were “Silent Running”, the new single “Don’t Know What Came Over Me”, “The Living Years” and a cover of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”.

You can listen to the broadcast on iPlayer and watch a video of their performance of “Lovely Day” up until April 15th.

Photo via BBC Radio 2

Categories live photos reviews tours

Review: Mike + The Mechanics UK Tour 2017

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Photo © Stuart Barnes

Review by Katherine Stratton for MR Net, photos by Stuart Barnes.

One would think that as the owner of a Mike Rutherford fan site, I would have years of Mechanics shows under my belt. In actual fact, this tour was my first live Mechanics experience, and what an experience it was. Over the course of a week I was fortunate enough to get to see the band three times, at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru, the Liverpool Philharmonic and Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall, with the only disappointment being the postponing of the Leicester show due to Storm Doris and some inconveniently aggressive roof tiles on the De Montfort Hall meaning it was too dangerous to enter the venue.

Opening the evening on this tour is Ben McKelvey, whose previous outing on tour had been as support for The Overtones. While his set-up was minimal, just Ben and an acoustic guitar accompanied by percussionist Marc Danecker on the cajón, he did not need more in order to easily deliver a performance that was intense and immensely enjoyable. His style is reminiscent of acts like Stereophonics or Jake Bugg with songs about, to quote his album title, life and love in England. “Only Here Once” and “Stay Young” were definite favourites, but all of his songs were memorable. In addition to his excellent presence as a musician, Ben did well to keep the banter up with Marc and the audience between songs, including a well-handled moment when he had technical difficulties during the Nottingham show. They were certainly good enough to make me not want to miss them on any of the nights I was there, and succeeded in getting the well-sized crowd good and ready for the main event.

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Photo © Stuart Barnes

That moment finally came half an hour or so later when, to the sound of a low hum interspersed with shouts and applause, the Mechanics took their places.

The set opened with “Are You Ready”, a strong, rousing song from their new album, Let Me Fly. Tim Howar is a natural frontman, and from the beginning you can see why they call him Tim “The Power” Howar. His voice is commanding and impressive, and he easily engages the room. There is something in the sentiment of this opening song, which deals with rekindling a relationship and taking a chance on starting again, which on reflection feels appropriate as an introduction to the evening and eventually to the band’s new material.

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Photo © Stuart Barnes

We were then settled in with a few trusted hits – “Another Cup of Coffee”, “Get Up” and “Silent Running”. The only shame about seated venues like these is that while you may want to “get up” (and it’s difficult not to, especially when Anto Drennan really gets going on guitar), it’s still a bit early in the night to be blocking someone’s view. All the same, the songs were as solid as ever and the audience energy was certainly mounting as it came time for the next offerings from the new album.

Andrew Roachford took the spotlight (literally) for “Save the World”, a soulful ballad that is the kind of song only Andrew can deliver so brilliantly. A lovely addition to this number was a delicate acoustic solo from Mike, which elicited a few cheers from the audience. We were then back to another upbeat song, where the hopeful theme of “Are You Ready” was reprised by Tim in the irresistibly catchy “The Best Is Yet To Come”.

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Photo © Stuart Barnes

The first deviation from Mechanics material of the night was to a number by Mike’s “old school band”, Genesis. Tim did a cracking job of “Land of Confusion”, which went down very well and got the audience participating.

At this point drummer Gary Wallis was invited to the front of the stage for an ‘unplugged’ interlude where we heard two more new songs, “High Life” and “Wonder”, both of which fit easily into the Mechanics catalogue. For me, this segment was one of the highlights of each night. Tim’s vocals on the quirky yet serious “High Life” were charming, while Andrew’s warmth and compassion on the smoother “Wonder” left me feeling a bit teary-eyed.

It was then time for the big one from the new album, the title track “Let Me Fly”. Mike himself has said this one is his favourite, and it’s easy to hear why. The version we get here is slightly stripped down (the album version will feature a backing choir, as have live festival performances that I’ve heard), but the power is still all there in Andrew’s voice. No one does this big, stirring sound quite like the Mechanics, and as it ended I found myself feeling like I needed a moment to recover.

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Photo © Stuart Barnes

 

I ended up doing so during the next song, “Beggar on a Beach of Gold”. On the back of those three spectacular new tracks, I was surprised to find that “Beggar” felt almost ordinary in comparison. It was still great, but for me it was that moment I needed to catch my breath between what I had just heard, and the song that was about to kick us all into a higher gear, the classic from the Roachford files, “Cuddly Toy”.

“Cuddly Toy” is just plain fun, and it’s difficult not to smile as Andrew works the crowd. By the end of it, everyone was worked up and ready as Mike took centre stage to slam out the riff of “I Can’t Dance”. The playful tone that started during “Cuddly Toy” continued as Mike and Tim played off of one another, smiling their way through the famous walk.

The rest of the set was crowd pleaser after crowd pleaser, with “Over My Shoulder” leading into a sing-along version of “All I Need is a Miracle”. Everyone remained standing as they awaited the encore, which featured Andrew’s gorgeous rendition of “The Living Years” and Tim’s indomitable treatment of “Word of Mouth”. It was really nice to hear each member of the band take a moment to show off their skills at the end, particularly in the case of Luke Juby whose expert contribution to the band goes much further than his whistling solo during “Shoulder”. Gary Wallis is a powerhouse, to the point where it’s almost exhausting to watch him. I also enjoyed Anto Drennan’s little nod to The Adventures of Robin Hood during the Nottingham show.

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Photo © Stuart Barnes

Overall, this was a set that was perfectly paced. At no point did it feel there was a lull, which can often happen when an audience is unsure of a band’s new material. I was also pleased to remark that no one talked during the new songs at any of the shows I attended. The balance of slower to faster songs, new material to classics, Mechanics to Genesis to Roachford, was precisely appropriate.

The joy of seeing this band is not solely down to the superb song writing and performances, but also in seeing and hearing how much you can tell they enjoy playing together. There is a lot of laughter and camaraderie on display, which makes you feel like you are a part of something special. The new songs have a quality that is reminiscent of the Mechanics back catalogue, but without ever being a pastiche. This is a band that’s found its new voice(s), and come back with confidence and strength.

At the end of each night I found that the songs I had stuck in my head were not the old hits at all, but what will hopefully be the new ones.

The tour of the UK continues throughout the month of March. For dates and tickets, visit mikeandthemechanics.com. The new album Let Me Fly is available now for pre-order, and will be released on April 7.

Setlist:

Are You Ready?
Another Cup of Coffee
Get Up
Silent Running
Save the World
The Best Is Yet To Come
Land of Confusion
High Life
Wonder
Let Me Fly
A Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Cuddly Toy
I Can’t Dance
Over My Shoulder
All I Need is a Miracle

Encore:
The Living Years
Word of Mouth