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Mike + The Mechanics @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – Saturday 25 February 2017

By Dean Pedley

When Mike Rutherford launched a remodelled Mechanics back in 2011 there was little indication it would develop into a fully-fledged second era for the band. But here we are at a packed out Symphony Hall some six years later with the Mechanics still touring on a regular basis and a new studio album (‘Let Me Fly’) due for release next month. Their ongoing success owes much to the chemistry between Rutherford and the two vocalists he chose to replace the two Paul’s (Young and Carrack); the energetic Canadian Tim Howar and the ever smooth and soulful Andrew Roachford.

Despite the tour being scheduled a few weeks before the album’s release the a third of the near two hour show was brand new material. Not that the audience seemed to mind as the band launched into the up-tempo ‘Are You Ready’ with Howar’s animated stage theatrics offsetting the more laid back and restrained presence of Messrs Rutherford and Roachford. Older material such as ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ and the always dramatic ‘Silent Running’ sat comfortably alongside mellow ballads ‘Save the World’ and ‘Let Me Fly’ and a fantastic venue such as Symphony Hall Roachford’s incredible vocals could be truly appreciated to their fullest potential.

The stage was bedecked in multi coloured flight cases and the eagle eyed would have noticed the unmistakable brand of Genesis stamped on a couple. And, lest we should forget Rutherford’s “school band” as Roachford described it, an explosive ‘Land of Confusion’ saw the stage drenched in red spotlights with Howar doing a terrific job both on this and ‘I Can’t Dance’. All six Mechanics were front and centre for an unplugged interlude that saw them highlight another two songs from the upcoming album and after delivering a powerful ‘A Beggar on a Beach of Gold’, Roachford also belted out his signature hit from the late 80’s by way of the funked-up ‘Cuddly Toy’.

Thirty odd years and eight albums since Rutherford put together the Mechanics to complement his day job the band and its leader genuinely appear to be having a blast. ‘All I Need is a Miracle’ and ‘Word of Mouth’ extended into call and response sing-a-longs and sandwiched between them was the moment of true magic as ‘The Living Years’ still evoked the unmistakable feelings of loss, hope and joy. With a set that stretched to almost two hours, this proved to be a thoroughly entertaining show from a hugely talented band.

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

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