Four hot air balloons hang from the ceiling of Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall.
The markings on them plot the history of the band we’re here to see. Formed in 1985 by Genesis founder member and guitarist Mike Rutherford, Mike and the Mechanics originally featured Paul Carrack and Paul Young (not that one) as lead singers. The Mechanics have changed over the years but the quality of the music has not diminished.
For almost 10 years now Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar have seamlessly slotted into the front man roles. They’re here tonight as part of the Looking Back (over my shoulder) tour 2019.
With no warm up the band take to the stage for a first set which features tracks old and new, plus some hits from the individual band members solo careers.
The Best Is Yet To Come kicks us off, followed by a couple of Mechanics classics. Another Cup Of Coffee and Beggar on a Beach of Gold. Tim Howar is predominately the frontman but both he and Roachford (also on keyboards) share the vocals. Rutherford, meanwhile, swaps between electric and acoustic guitars.
It’s a strong start from the band but I get the feeling that the audience aren’t enjoying it as much as I am.
Hopefully things will change as the intro to the Genesis classic Land Of Confusion is thrashed out. Still we don’t get the feeling that the crowd are into it as much as I am. It’s easy to spot the Genesis fans who have seen this played live before as they point to the air at the appropriate parts of the chorus. Howar tries his hardest to get some kind of audience participation going, but to be honest, he struggles a bit. As far as I was concerned it was a fantastic performance.
Soon to follow was Andrew Roachford’s note perfect version of the Alan Partridge classic Cuddly Toy. It was sooner in the set than we would have expected but at least it was guaranteed to get the crowd up and moving a bit. It didn’t really though. Again though, a fantastic performance.
Out Of The Blue concludes the first set and the band go off for a well earned break.
The only drawback of the first half for me was a well rehearsed but badly delivered introduction of the Mechanics by each other as they described what type of car and what kind of mechanic they would be. Think Blind Date contestants describing themselves. I drifted off a bit to be honest. That time could have been better spent by playing another Genesis track. Rutherford’s Deep In The Motherlode would have gone down nicely.
We settled down for the second half and the Mechanics (including drummer Gary Wallis) line up for a short acoustic set which kicks off with a lovely version of Genesis’ Follow You Follow Me. A cracking saxophone solo by Luke Juby also features as part of Everybody Gets a Second Chance.
The crowd starts to wake up. Silent Running, Get Up, followed by The Living Years. It’s a song that you normally associate with Paul Carrack but I was pleasantly surprised by Roachford’s wonderful vocals. Another Genesis cover. We Can’t Dance, by no means the best Collins, Banks and Rutherford track, but the crowd were finally in the swing of things. Howar cranks up the tempo and audience participation was in full effect.
All I Need Is a Miracle and Over My Shoulder conclude the second set before the band came back on for the encore.
A nigh on 15 minute version of Word of Mouth which includes another introduction of the band members and individual performances from them all. Maybe that would have been better off in an earlier part of the second set.
Nevertheless it was a brilliant night. Mike and the Mechanics were firing on all cylinders despite certain parts of the audience trying to throw a spanner in the works.
Words and Photos by Richard Newbold