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 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 features live tours

Series: Collecting the Mechanics Part 2: Live Recordings

A new year, and a new installment of our series on Collecting the Mechanics. This month, Alan Hewitt takes us through the Mechanics’ touring history with a selection of standout audio and video recordings. Where possible, we have tried to add links to clips from the videos that are mentioned.

Words and photos by Alan Hewitt of The Waiting Room.

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From L to R: Zurich 1989 (photo by G Truffer), Manchester 1995 (photo by J Guntrip), Schaan 2016 (photo by D Konrad)

Continuing the look at the various aspects of collecting which are associated with the band, we now look at the various live and studio performances which the band have made over the years. As you may imagine, this is perhaps one of the most fertile areas of endeavour for a collector and what follows is by no means an exhaustive listing of the material that is available in this field, but more of a taster to whet your appetites, if you will. So, here, tour by tour and album by album is a look at some of this fascinating material…

Continue reading Series: Collecting the Mechanics Part 2: Live Recordings

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 tours

Ben McKelvey to support Mike + the Mechanics for their 2017 UK tour

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Ben McKelvey – photo by Sam J Bond

Mike + the Mechanics announced on their official Facebook page this morning that their support for the 2017 Word of Mouth tour will be singer and songwriter Ben McKelvey.

Ben started his career as a drummer in a punk band, but turned his talents to the guitar and to songwriting when the band eventually went their separate ways in 2010. He has listed some of his songwriting influences as being Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Mark Everett of Eels (source).

Most recently Ben has been on the road supporting Wet, Wet, Wet on their Big Picture Tour, and will be supporting The Overtones come November. You can find more information on his website, http://www.bmckmusic.co.uk/.

Ben’s debut solo album Life & Love in England was released in February of this year, and is available for purchase and streaming on iTunes and Spotify.

Tickets for the Mechanics’ Word of Mouth tour can be purchased via Ticketline.

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 tours

Mike + the Mechanics announce Word of Mouth UK Tour Dates for 2017

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The band have announced a thirty date UK tour for February and March of 2017. For more information and tickets, you can check out the official website.

FEBRUARY

14
Tuesday
Opera House
BUXTON
15
Wednesday
Sage
GATESHEAD
17
Friday
Barbican
YORK
19
Sunday
Sands Centre
CARLISLE
20
Monday
Venue Cmyru
LLANDUDNO
21
Tuesday
Philharmonic Hall
LIVERPOOL
23
Thursday
De Montfort Hall
LEICESTER
24
Friday
Royal Centre
NOTTINGHAM
25
Saturday
Symphony Hall
BIRMINGHAM
27
Monday
Victoria Hall
HANLEY
28
Tuesday
G Live
GUILDFORD

 

MARCH

1
Wednesday
Colston Hall
BRISTOL
3
Friday
Pavilions
PLYMOUTH
4
Saturday
St David’s Hall
CARDIFF
5
Sunday
New Theatre
OXFORD
7
Tuesday
Hexagon
READING
8
Wednesday
Corn Exchange
CAMBRIDGE
9
Thursday
Regent Theatre
IPSWICH
11
Saturday
Cliffs Pavilion
SOUTHEND
13
Monday
Dome
BRIGHTON
15
Wednesday
Bridgewater Hall
MANCHESTER
17
Friday
Concert Hall
PERTH
18
Saturday
His Majesty’s
ABERDEEN
19
Sunday
Festival Theatre
EDINBURGH
21
Tuesday
Royal Concert Hall
GLASGOW
22
Wednesday
City Hall
SHEFFIELD
24
Friday
Pavilion
BOURNEMOUTH
25
Saturday
Guildhall
PORTSMOUTH
26
Sunday
Royal Albert Hall
LONDON
28
Tuesday
City Hall
SALISBURY