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 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 fans photos reviews tours

Review: Mike + the Mechanics in Zoetermeer

At the weekend, fan Bryan Daniels was on the scene in Zoetermeer for the final show of the Mechanics’ 2016 European tour. Here is his perspective on the show that marked the six year anniversary of the band’s first performance together.

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Tim and Mike in Zoetermeer

Text and photos by Bryan Daniels

On Sunday I decided on a whim to go on a 1,000 mile round trip to Zoetermeer, to catch the last show on The Mechanics’ European tour. It could have been easier a week before, but I was prevented from getting to the German gigs, so this was the only chance.

My charming companion on the trip is an experienced Mechanics-hunter and knows when and where the guys were likely to be during the build-up to the gig. Useful for photos and autographs! Since the guys had partied the night before to see in Mike’s 66th birthday, they looked a bit the worse for wear in the afternoon.

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Bryan with Andrew

Luke and Tim were bleary-eyed but very talkative, Anto and Andrew were a little monosyllabic. Mike had other obligations and showed up a lot later, and when he did, was in a hurry to get into the venue. But he promised to come out again, and true to his word, gave a few autographs and chatted with the fans. Among other things, he revealed his true height (ed. note: 6’3, or 191cm!)

The concert itself was brilliant. Anyone who expects a Genesis replacement at a Mechanics gig will be disappointed, but there are plenty of Genesis cover bands, so no-one should go without. What Mike + the Mechanics offer is tightly-played, quality pop. And fun. No, make that FUN. Musically, they gel better and better from year to year. Mike is getting more relaxed every year, and to my untrained ear, he seems to subtly overhaul his guitar parts in between tours, to give the old standards a new feel. The set list is a matter of record, but it’s shown below for those living in the dark ages.

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They began with Get Up, allowing Tim to get the crowd going. There are quite a few reasons I love this venue; it’s very compact, wherever you are, the stage isn’t far. (Front row is anyway hard to top, and that is what we had). It’s all standing (as were all the European venues, according to Luke) so the bouncing is a given from the word go. The crowd is very knowledgeable, there aren’t really any casual fans who come by chance, so the level of audience participation is great. Another Cup of Coffee gave Tim a showcase for his softer vocals (normally Andrew’s domain) but it was easy to see what a great front man he is, as he made eye contact with one lady after another, leaving each feeling they’d been personally drawn into the show.

The hits were better than ever and the two newer songs “Are You Ready” and the title track of the next album “Let Me Fly” seem to bode well for the newer material. My companion had already speculated “I bet [Tim] composed his new vocal song” and she was bang on. Tim said after the gig that he and Mike had co-composed “Are You Ready” with Clark Datchler. It sounds lyrically deeper than anything on The Road and it was clear that Tim enjoys being a part of the song’s origin. He took on a new empathy with the lyrics, which he probably can’t do so easily when he’s covering the material of the two Pauls.

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Andrew’s new track “Let Me Fly” stood up to the old grey whistle test too. Mike was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” more than once and he shared the fact that the band’s rebirth started with a gig exactly six years earlier. The set list seems quite short, but they played almost 2 hours, and no-one can complain about not getting value for their 38 Euros. On a personal note, I got autographs of the whole band, photos with most, Mike personally gave me his own plectrum from the stage, and the printed set list, which was stuck on the stage, also disappeared in my pocket. So I left Holland well happy at having made the decision to hit Boerderij at the last minute.

Set list:

Get Up
Another Cup of Coffee
Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Silent Running
Are You Ready
Try to Save
Let Me Fly
Land of Confusion
Cuddly Toy
I Can’t Dance
Living Years
All I Need is a Miracle
Over My Shoulder
Word of Mouth

Categories albums photos reviews tours

German Mini-Tour 2016 and Album News

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Mike on stage in Frankfurt. Photo by Sven-Sebastian Sajak.

Mike + the Mechanics’ mini tour of Germany has seemingly been off to a great start with shows in Munich and Frankfurt. Reviews have been published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau (both links in German).

Photos from Frankfurt can be found on the Frankfurter Neue Presse website.

In the most exciting news, Mike announced on stage in Frankfurt that a new Mechanics album titled ‘Let Me Fly’ should be coming out next January. No more official information is available at this time, but we will keep you updated. The band played the title track as well as another new song, ‘Are You Ready’, at both shows.

Tickets for some of the remaining shows are still available, and can be purchased here. The band will also be playing in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands on October 2nd, and you can find tickets for that show here.

24 September Saturday Leipzig
25 September Sunday Berlin
26 September Monday Hamburg
28 September Wednesday Bremen
29 September Thursday Bielefeld
30 September Friday Cologne
Categories live photos VIDEOS

Ringsted Festival and Osfest

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Mike + the Mechanics at the 2016 Ringsted Festival. Photo: Jens Wollesen via SN.dk

The band started the month off with a couple of festival performances in Denmark and Norway. First up was the Ringsted Festival on the 4th of August, videos from which can be seen below.

Danish website SN.dk have uploaded a large selection of really nice photos from the festival, taken by Jens Wollesen. You can also find a number of photos on radio station Partyzone’s Facebook site.

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Mike + the Mechanics at Osfest. Photo: Andris Hamre via Midtsiden

On Saturday the 6th, the band performed at Osfest in Osøyri, Norway. According to the paper Midtsiden, the show went very well despite some organisational issues around festival promotion. You can see the article (in Norwegian) and find more photos on the Midtsiden website, who were also responsible for uploading the video below (the Mechanics appear at around the 3:48 mark).

If you’ve missed the chance to see the Mechanics at one of their festival dates this summer, never fear, you still have the chance to see them in September if you’re in or near Germany. Go here to find more information about tickets.

Categories live photos VIDEOS

FL1 LIFE Festival, Wintershall and the British Grand Prix

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Photo via FL1 LIFE

The summer is carrying on quickly, and the month of July started out with a bang for the Mechanics who “worked the crowd up to a fever pitch” at the FL1 LIFE Festival in Liechtenstein (Vaterland).

Many thanks to Dominik Konrad Photography for letting us upload his photos from the event. You can find more photos from the festival on the FL1 LIFE Facebook page.

The next day the band made their way back to England to Wintershall, where they performed alongside Roger Taylor, Jeff Beck, The Darkness and others in support of HASTE and the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund in what reviewer Chaz Brooks called a “memorable show”, crediting the “superb vocalists” Tim and Andrew.

You can watch a video of the band performing Silent Running at Wintershall below. Thank you to YouTube user clangers234 for uploading it.

This past weekend then saw the band giving a performance at this year’s Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It was obvious from the band’s official Twitter alone that they had a smashing time, though it would be difficult not to in that setting! Silverstone shared a couple of photos from the day as well:

Next up this month is the Rock Legend Festival with Marillion in Poland on the 25th, and we will be back then to hopefully share some more photos and videos!

Categories live photos VIDEOS

Isle of Wight Festival 2016

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Photo via Absolute Radio

This past weekend saw the Mechanics play the main stage at the 2016 Isle of Wight festival. From where we were sitting (that is, by the radio) it sounded very strong, and the reviews we’ve seen so far seem to agree!

For those who were unable to get to the festival in person, Absolute Radio have posted some extended highlights from the set. There was also an interview, which we will post as soon as it’s available.

On the visual side, there is a video of “The Living Years” from the official festival YouTube channel.

While the Isle of Wight Radio site has shared a number of photos, a few of which we’ve included below. To see the rest (and there are a few!), please go to their website.

Finally, we have some photos of our own to add to the gallery, courtesy of Hannah Saunders.

Categories live photos VIDEOS

Photos: The Retro Festival 2015

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Photo by Marc Gilgen, via Facebook

Mike + the Mechanics appeared at Lucerne’s Retro Festival on the 23rd of May, 2015 and the organisers have shared a number of photos and a video from the night.

You can find more of Marc’s photos on the Retro Festival website.

Fan Silvy from Switzerland has also very kindly shared with us her photos from the event. Thank you, Silvy!