Gig review: MIKE + THE MECHANICS – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

MIKE + THE MECHANICS - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

With only two tracks from the album featured in the set, the Word Of Mouth Tour 2017 billing – to celebrate that album’s 25th anniversary last year, turned out to be something of a misnomer.

But, let’s be honest, the audience weren’t there for a forensic revaluation of that album.  No, they were there for the strap line promise of  “all the hits and selected Genesis songs”.

And while Mike and his multi-talented Mechanics didn’t disappoint in that respect, the opportunity wasn’t missed to give a weighty plug for the imminent Let Me Fly album (which contributed almost a quarter of the songs on the night).

MIKE + THE MECHANICS - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

The hits were, as billed, pretty much all present and correct and perhaps Rutherford has learned from Steve Hackett’s experience that opening the Pandora’s Box of the Genesis back catalogue can be prejudicial to your future set list options (if not your bank balance).  So, the ‘then there were three’-era output was restricted to the crowd pleasing ‘Land Of Confusion’, and ‘I Can’t Dance’ – an undisputed highlight on the night.

With hindsight it may have been best had fans had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Let Me Fly material in advance, because, although it fitted seamlessly into the set, it was only the aptly titled set opener – a classic piece of timeless pop, and maybe ‘Wonder’ – which harked back to The Living Years, that would have been strong enough to ride the charts in the band’s heyday in the mid-eighties to mid-nineties.

MIKE + THE MECHANICS - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

As you’d expect, with the line-up now stable with Andrew Roachford and Canadian Tim Howar sharing vocal duties, the performance was impeccable, Rutherford looking every inch the semi-retired, well-heeled rock star – lean, and in casual jacket and T-shirt.

But while I’ve seldom seen a vocalist work a crowd so hard, I wasn’t entirely convinced by Howar’s ‘fit’.  His somewhat Transatlantic ‘Idol’ style posturing was in sharp contrast to the restrained ‘stiff British upper lip’ nature of the rest of band.

MIKE + THE MECHANICS - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

And his compunction to namecheck ‘Manchester’ at least once during every number (managing to get into jaw dropping double figures in ‘All I Need Is A Miracle’) was just too clichéd (and misjudged) for my liking.

Roachford, on the other hand was the epitome of ‘cool’, his own ‘Cuddly Toy’ getting a rapturous reception from the well represented, female contingent of the audience.

MIKE + THE MECHANICS - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

But hey, as billed, we got – as we all wanted – ‘hit after hit’.  No frills, no extensive soloing, no extended work outs – just a ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ celebration of some of the best pop songs that have come from these shores and found favour around the globe.

Songs like the impossibly catchy ‘Another Cup Of Coffee’ and ‘Over My Shoulder’, the polished craftsmanship of ‘Silent Running’ (I still can’t get it out of my head 24 hours later), the irrepressible ‘All I Need Is A Miracle’, and the timeless ‘The Living Years’ which evoked memories of the late, great, Paul Young.

As they say, they just don’t write ‘em like that anymore.  Now, that’s what I call entertainment.

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.  Encores: The Living Years / Word Of Mouth

Review by Pete Whalley
Photos by David Randall

Album review
Album launch (London, 28 March 2017)

UK dates

March 17         Concert Hall, Perth
March 18         His Majesty’s , Aberdeen
March 19         Festival Hall, Edinburgh
March 21         Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
March 22         City Hall, Sheffield
March 24         Pavilion, Bournemouth
March 25         Guildhall, Portsmouth
March 26         Royal Albert Hall, London
March 28         City Hall, Salisbury

MIKE + THE MECHANICS - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15 March 2017

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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