Finally, a Friday night show to look forward to! The last few I have done have been on Mondays which don't lend themselves to allowing people to let their hair down and party like it's 1999! The venue was The Pavilions in Plymouth, the band? Mike + the Mechanics.
Rewind to the mid 1980's and I am 14 years old, sitting in my mother's car, looking out of the window whilst she's singing along to "The Living Years" by the aforementioned act, I guess you could say that they were one of her favourite bands at the time and boy did I know it!
The Pavilions in Plymouth was filling nicely, it was a seated affair this evening which suited the 'experienced' audience, though saying that, there was a smattering of youngsters in the crowd too!
Opening up the evening's entertainment was London based singer songwriter Ben McKelvey, we like Ben, Ben's great, we like him so much, we chatted to him before the show and he told us how welcoming M+TM had been to him on this grueling 32 date tour. Ben released his debut long player Life & Love in England in March 2016 when he was on an arena tour supporting Wet Wet Wet and we laughed as I thought it was only in October that he last showed up in Plymouth, where does the time go?
Ben played a brilliant, warm and confident set, his voice and acoustic guitar was all he needed and his initial tracks featured a harmonica, which was a great touch. He chatted with the audience between songs and won them over with his tremendous wit and personality.
He played a few songs from his debut album, which reached number 6 in the iTunes singer songwriter chart (he was nestled nicely between Ed Sheeran and James Bay) and even managed to showcase a new track, which will be included on the forthcoming EP in April. As soon as the tour is over, he's heading back into the studio to lay down album number two, something he is really looking forward to and said that he feels is his best material yet. If the debut album is anything to go by, I can't wait!
He ended with a brilliant track called “Stay Young” which had the audience clapping along whilst he stamped on the stage to create a makeshift drum. If you are yet to check out his music, I strongly urge you to track down his debut album, it won’t be long until he releases his second and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on his older material!
After a short break and a change around on stage, the lights dipped and M+TM took to the stage.
Mike + The Mechanics formed in 1985 as a side project by Mike Rutherford, one of the founding members of 70's uber-famous rock band GENESIS and has seen various faces come and go over the years. Paul Young and Paul Carrack were the original vocalists until Young's untimely death in 2000 when Carrack took over sole vocal duties until 2004 when the band went on hiatus. Rutherford revived the band in 2010 and took on the services of Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, who shared the vocal duties.
They put out a new record The Road in 2011 and are due to release their latest body of work Let Me Fly in April 2017
For the next 2 hours, we were treated to a master class in “how it should be done”, the polished performance and the quality of musicianship delivered by the 6 guys on stage took your breath away.
They played a terrific mix of music, classics from the Genesis years included “Land of Confusion” and the industrial metronomic clanging’s of “I Can’t Dance” which started off low key with just Rutherford and Howar, before they were joined by the remainder of the band.
Midway through the set, Andrew Roachford took centre stage and said, “It’s time to open up the Roachford files” and with that, the band kicked into “Cuddly Toy” which had the audience up on their feet and singing along in no time at all.
Rutherford strapped on his acoustic guitar and introduced a new track “Save the World”, which features on the new album Let me Fly, available soon.
The smooth, soulful tones of Andrew Roachford and the pure power emitted form the vocal chords of Tim Howar complemented the music perfectly, to see them on stage is something else, you’re not just looking at 6 musicians, you’re looking at 6 extremely talented guys who have a real chemistry about them and relate so well together on stage.
Rutherford switched regularly from electric to acoustic guitar and then to bass guitar, showcasing his wealth of talent and experience.
The set came to a close with “All I Need is a Miracle” but they were soon back on stage for a couple more, the show coming to a final close after “The Living Years” and a stellar version of “Word of Mouth” which saw the band (Luke Juby – keys/bass guitar/whistler, Gary Wallis – Drums, Anthony Drennan – Guitar/Bass) take their turn in the spotlight to showcase their own skills.
On tour until the end of March, check the website and social media and see if they’re appearing in a town near you, I guarantee you a great night out and a croaky voice the next morning!
Words and Pictures by Steve Muscutt