Categories live photos reviews

A Stranger in a Strange Land: Mike + The Mechanics in Copenhagen – September 1, 2017

 

Photo © 8By10ByScott

Words by Scott Saldinger, photos by 8By10ByScott

Dallas, Texas is home, but when the chance to divert on vacation to see Mike and the Mechanics on opening night of their European tour at the Amager Bio in Copenhagen, Denmark there was no way I would miss out! It’s always a different experience seeing musicians perform outside of the U.S. so for this show, I was a stranger in a strange land…

My first Mike & the Mechanics show was June 20th 1986 on their first U.S. tour at what is now CMAC (Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center), in Canandaigua, NY and then on The Living Years tour April 13th 1989 at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester, NY. During the gap between those early performances and seeing them live once again in the U.S. on The Hits Tour 2015 in Chicago, I continued to follow the progression of the band that was now firmly planted in the U.K. and Europe, but holding out hope to one day experience them live again.

Seeing them in Chicago, after all those years, where they were somewhat strangers in a strange land, was interesting. Reintroducing yourself back to an audience from which you’ve been away for a long time can be met with both excitement, but also disappointment if a band does not stand up to the memory. With a smaller crowd than they would typically have in the U.K. and Europe, who came out decked in more Genesis shirts than MATM wear, would the show live up to my memories of a small, but dedicated audience? This audience was clearly experienced with the music, though this lineup was new to them. As one would hope and expect, the performance was top notch, as though Mike and The Mechanics hadn’t missed a beat through changes and over time! I did realize though that the audience was subdued compared to what you would see from a home audience on a YouTube video. Even the recent U.S. shows in New Jersey and New York, which I also attended, had that same feel as Chicago. What would it be like seeing them in Copenhagen where the fan base has been sustained over the years?

Photo © 8By10ByScott

With Mike Rutherford back at the helm of his “side project” and with welcome additions to the lineup, they don’t need a “miracle” to reclaim the excitement of their music and performances, just a legion of loyal fans willing to spread the Word of Mouth!

An interesting fact about Amager Bio is that it was never built as a concert hall. Originally it was the community movie theater. The venue has since been stripped of seats, screen, and original soundproofing. The walls are now corrugated sheet metal. You can feel them vibrate and resonate with every beat of the bass drum, cymbal crash and power chord. Not the best scenario to hear music that has highs, lows and points where it just needs to breathe in between, but surprisingly once the room was filled, the music enveloped the audience, benefactors of the good vibrations emanating from the stage.

Amager Bio was packed before Ben McKelvey took the stage. He quickly proved worthy of the audience’s attention. Any musician who can draw in an audience with just a voice and guitar deserves the praise he receives. Let’s hope the Mechanics find Ben available to open on next year’s U.S. tour.

While the setlist (see below) was pretty much intact from recent shows, with the exception of Don’t Know What Came Over Me, let’s focus on the performance and not the choice in material. With the size and quality of the band’s catalog, sans any Genesis or solo material, no one will ever hear all they want, but should never walk away unsatisfied with the song selection. There is plenty sprinkled throughout the set for old and new fans to appreciate a Mike and The Mechanics performance.

Photo © 8By10ByScott

As the lights went down the audience’s excitement and the band’s energy was palpable as they launched into Are You Ready, immediately setting the tone for what was to be a superb performance! Tim Howar quickly proved he had earned his introduction as “The Power”. As a set opener, this song proves its worth and should be cemented in the set for tours to come. Andrew Roachford then takes over for three MATM classics – Another Cup of Coffee, Get Up (on which he duets with Tim) and Silent Running. These two superbly talented singers easily step up, putting their own signature on songs performed by the original lineup.

There will always be discussions contrasting previous and current lead singers in the Mechanics, so it’s important to keep the perspective that Mike didn’t set out to hire carbon copies of the irreplaceable Paul Young and Paul Carrack. He found voices that could respectfully portray the original versions while at the same time bringing their own unique qualities to make them their own. Both Andrew and Tim are worthy and have accomplished this goal while having the talent to raise the bar for new Mechanics songs.

You could hear a pin drop as Andrew led the band into Save The World. His voice filled the space of the room perfectly and my concern over the vibrating walls was unwarranted.

Photo © 8By10ByScott

With the first third of the set delivered brilliantly, launching into The Best Is Yet To Come took the performance to a whole new level, further energizing the enthusiastic audience.

Land of Confusion, poignant when released in the 80’s, still resonates with the politically charged and divided world we live in and retains its big “Stadium Rock”, to quote Tim Howar, feel from the Genesis days. You could literally feel the song as the crowd sang along with the corrugated walls vibrating in unison throughout the song.

The continued inclusion of an acoustic break in the set is an appreciated respite from the fast moving first half. When reaching this break, you don’t realize you’re heading toward to end of the set. And of course, who wants it to end?

High Life and Wonder, two new songs, stand up well, and really allow for Tim and Andrew to show off their vocal talents. It’s also a great time to give the drummer a moment to breathe. Steve Barney came on board as the newest Mechanic just before the tour and fit in easily, coming well prepared with the tools of the trade. The audience was treated to Steve’s brilliant drumming prowess late in the show with a solo during band introductions that certainly proved that he’d passed muster as a Mechanic.

Photo © 8By10ByScott

If you’ve seen early videos of Let Me Fly performed before the release of the album, you really get a sense of how the song has matured and improved over time. Close your eyes and you can feel the experience of releasing yourself of whatever holds you back and soaring toward new horizons in Andrew’s soulful voice. Let Me Fly takes on a new life performed live, filling the venue and leaping from the stage.

No Mechanics show would be complete without paying homage to the late Paul Young. Tim Howar has done a fantastic job replacing an unreplaceable, distinctive voice in the band and makes songs like Beggar On A Beach of Gold familiar, yet new. A treat would be if Mike chose to put Taken In back in the set. If you’ve ever heard Tim perform this, you’ve been blown away as he captures its original feel, but takes it to a higher emotional level as his voice breathes new life into this classic and makes it shine on a whole new level. A lost gem in the Mechanics catalog.

As Beggar drives the audience into a frenzy, the Mechanics launch toward the finale of the set keeping the audience in constant motion as they build with Over My Shoulder, featuring the youngest, yet no less seasoned, Luke Juby, grabbing a bass and taking over as master whistler!

All I Need is a Miracle caps off the set and keeps the audience wanting more. This song has never lost its energy or message and resonates to this day.

Photo © 8By10ByScott

If you’re a longtime fan of any of Mike’s work, you know many of his songs have the staying power to remain timeless and new, resonating with audiences who connect with the feelings and thoughts.

With an encore of Living Years, topped off with Word of Mouth, poignant not only for its original message, but for highlighting the fact that in today’s music business it’s necessary to cut through the clutter of constant media and deluge of information that we all face . Fortunately having a loyal fan base such as the Mechanics do, they oblige by spreading the bands “Word of Mouth” via social media and attending performances. This song also allows both Mike and Anthony Drennan time to show off their guitar chops with crowd-pleasing solos that don’t disappoint.

Photo © 8By10ByScott

Seeing how this audience embraced and reacted to this performance was so different than shows in the States which made it a very special night, not only for myself, but for many in the audience who traveled from places beyond Copenhagen for the first night of the tour. With audience enthusiasm like this throughout the European tour and a U.S. tour on the horizon, fans will be satisfied having a band who is “all in” and looking to keep bringing fresh versions of old hits as well as new music for a long time to come!

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

Encore:
The Living Years
Word of Mouth

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Categories live VIDEOS

Mike + The Mechanics on Berlin Live

Mike + The Mechanics did a special show for a live recording of arte’s Berlin Live on October 2nd. The entire concert is available for streaming from the Berlin Live website until November 1st.

Set list:

Are You Ready
Another Cup of Coffee
Get Up
Silent Running
Don’t Know What Came Over Me
The Best Is Yet to Come
High Life
Wonder
Let Me Fly
Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Over My Shoulder
All I Need is a Miracle
The Living Years
Word of Mouth

Categories live

Mike + The Mechanics to play series of Florida shows in March

Mike + The Mechanics will be playing a series of dates in Florida this spring, coinciding with their participation in The 80s Cruise.

16 March 2018 – Parker Playhouse – Ft Lauderdale, FL
19 March 2018 – Plaza Live – Orlando, FL
20 March 2018 – Capitol Theatre – Clearwater, FL
21 March 2018 – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall – St Augustine, FL

Tickets for all three shows go on sale this Friday, June 16th, at 10am EDT.

Prices range from $33.92 – $192.50 in Ft. Lauderdale ($192.50 tickets including a Meet and Greet), $39.50 – $194.50  in Orlando ($194.50 tickets including a Meet and Greet), $45.50 to $129.50 in Clearwater ($129.50 tickets including a Meet and Greet), and $63-$73 in St Augustine.

The band will also be headlining The 80s Cruise along with Rick Springfield, Loverboy, Billy Ocean and others, which runs from March 17 to March 24.

No further US dates have been announced at this time.

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 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 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

Categories live

Mike + The Mechanics to support Phil Collins in Dublin on 25 June

matmphildublinMike + The Mechanics have added another date in support of Phil Collins this summer. The Mechanics, as well as Blondie, will be appearing at Phil’s show on June 25th in Dublin, Ireland. Tickets are on sale now.

The Mechanics will also be opening for Phil at the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park on June 30th. Tickets for that event are available here.

Categories andrew roachford live

Andrew Roachford solo tour dates for Autumn 2017

Andrew Roachford has announced a series of UK tour dates for the end of the year, beginning in October. Tickets are available through the links below or for more information visit roachford.co.uk.

AR2017tour

OCTOBER

13
 Friday
Atkinson Theatre
14
Saturday
Musician
20
Friday
O2 Academy3
21
Saturday
O2 Academy2
27
Friday
The Brook
28
Saturday
Gateway Theatre

NOVEMBER

2  Thursday Live Rooms CHESTER
3  Friday Library Theatre DARWEN
4  Saturday The Venue SELBY
10  Friday O2 Academy2 NEWCASTLE
11  Saturday Oran Mor GLASGOW
12  Sunday The Assembly ABERDEEN
17  Friday Fruit HULL
18  Saturday Waterfront Studio NORWICH
19  Sunday Con Club LEWES
24  Friday St. John’s Church FARNCOMBE
25  Saturday O2 Academy Islington LONDON

DECEMBER

1  Friday Academy 3 MANCHESTER
2  Saturday Esquires BEDFORD
7  Thursday Villa Marina ISLE OF MAN