Alan Hewitt reviews Mike + The Mechanics’ End of Tour Party at the Shepherds Bush Empire London on Tuesday October 10th, 2017. Words and photos by Alan Hewitt.
Having already seen the band twice on their UK tour earlier this year, I was not expecting to get the opportunity to see them a third time, but once again I was made an offer I could not refuse, and so London bound I was…
As had been the case with the British and UK tours, the band were preceded on stage by singer songwriter Ben McKelvey. Ben was in fine form as he ran through a forty minute set comprising numbers from his debut album Life And Love In England, alongside a few new numbers from the follow up album which Ben is still currently working on. It was great to see him get such a good reception from the crowd, many of whom were evidently familiar with his music. Ben is a songwriter in the old tradition. His songs actually tell a story and he is an incredibly strong performer, one whom I would recommend you catch if you can.
We didn’t have long to wait for the Mechanics, who took the stage to open the show with Are You Ready?, an apt opener given that this was a celebration and it was obvious that Tim was definitely in the mood to rev the audience up. Not that we needed much encouragement, eh?
Another Cup of Coffee and Get Up showcased the two main facets of The Mechanics’ musical style, the former a smoky ballad type song at which Roachford excels. He certainly hit the spot tonight whilst Get Up demonstrated the rock credentials of the band with Tim taking the lead and gingering up the crowd with his on stage antics.
Things quietened down slightly for the band’s first hit, Silent Running, replete with its deceptively quiet introduction which built to a musical crescendo of musical and vocal excellence. Here, Roachford proved (if proof were really needed) that he has the pipes to rock out as well as his more usual style.
The first nod to Mike’s other band was preceded by the now standard on stage “joke” about previous bands. Apparently Andrew’s was simply called “The School Band”, while as Mike wryly announced “mine was called Genesis” to a cheer from the crowd as the band launched into Land Of Confusion. It’s fun and gets everyone in the mood, but I can’t help thinking that there are better offerings from the band’s canon that they could tackle. But hey, I was in the minority here as the crowd loved it!
This show was billed as a party and it certainly was a celebration of the band’s ongoing and building success story. With Let Me Fly achieving chart success here and abroad, it was great to hear the new numbers in all their glory. High Life, Wonder and Let Me Fly were all delivered with incredible energy by a band brim full of confidence and backed by an audience that were definitely in the mood to celebrate.
Older numbers rubbed shoulders with the new ones equally well with Over My Shoulder, All I Need Is a Miracle and Living Years proving that the Mechanics’ catalogue has strength and depth. Even Roachford’s evergreen hit Cuddly Toy fitted in seamlessly with the usual audience participation antics.
Here we have a band that have achieved the seemingly impossible. They have not only survived the loss of two such incredibly strong performers as Carrack and Young but, after six years of recording with this new line up, they are back where they belong as one of the UK’s most popular bands. That success is a testament to the people in the band and their hard work, and also that of the other songwriters who have contributed to the Mechanics “project”.
That success was celebrated in fine style tonight and once again I have a few people to thank. First of all to Jo Greenwood for all her help and encouragement. To Ben McKelvey for being such a great opening act as well as being a damn fine chap in his own right (see you in December, Ben!). To Mike and the rest of the guys in the band who turn in such amazing performances night after night. To Steve “Pud” Jones and the rest of the road crew without whom… And finally to Kate Green and Gerald Collins for being my partners in crime tonight. Here’s to the next one!
Editor’s note: The Mechanics’ End of Tour Party was put on in aid of Diabetes UK. For more information about the organisation or to make a donation, visit their website at https://www.diabetes.org.uk/.
Are You Ready?
Another Cup of Coffee
The Best Is Yet to Come
Land of Confusion
Let Me Fly
A Beggar on a Beach of Gold
I Can’t Dance
Over My Shoulder
All I Need is a Miracle
The Living Years
Word of Mouth