Filled to the rafters, St David’s Hall on a Saturday night with many in the audience in a boisterous mood; excited at hearing many of the tracks that form the backdrop of living in the 1980’s; on this Hits Tour. Mike & The Mechanics has been resurrected by Mike Rutherford of Genesis using the same format as the original incarnation but without vocalists the charismatic Paul Carrack and Paul Young who died in 2000.
The stage was filled with lights of various sizes and shapes, and there were touring boxes with Genesis, Phil Collins and AC/DC stencilled on them creating the feel of a band on the move; with a new six-piece delivery of hits and new material.
Tonight we were treated to fifteen songs, delivered over 90 minutes with changes of tempo, vocal attachment, a sprinkling of Saxophone, lots of keyboards and guitars as the audience were taken on the mechanical walk. For some it was a dance through favourite songs redolent with memories for many. The new vocalists were soulful Andrew Roachford and rocky with theatrical style Tim Howar who delivered the songs with a passion and an energy redolent of the 80’s; along with a few ardent admirers up and dancing in the aisles early on in the show. The Cardiff audience loved the opportunity to clap and sing along they loved making a noise in harmony with a band and music they loved.
Opening with Silent Running, included in the mix was the title track of the 1995 album Beggar On A Beach of Gold, we were introduced to the charms of Tim’s vocals as he curled his tongue around the lyrics and used the mic stand as a theatrical prop. The wonderful Rutherford & Carrack composed Get Up gave Roachford the chance to vocalise, what energy with the synth and the other instruments crisply adding texture and layers of sound. The drumming from the longest serving member of the band Gary Wallis was loud and precise with thunderclaps of drum beats that shone through on many of the tracks on display tonight.
The audience adored the two Genesis tracks, Turn It On and Can’t Dance; the lack of Phil Collins was noticeable but the change in vocal style made the songs different and they were cheered clapped and danced to.
The guitar work from both Mike up front and Anthony Drennan was stylish each complementing each other when not playing bass, which they both took turns in adding to the strong rhythm section. A second keyboard and saxophone courtesy of Luke Juby added a layer of sound so that the auditorium was filled with a mixture of Prog Rock and pop depending on the song they were sharing tonight with the crowd from Cardiff.
For me the whole show was too stage-managed and not enough variations in tempo and style despite the acoustic section and it was looking back as even the new music lacked innovation stealing from the discarded clothing of Genesis. That though was not the feeling of many in the audience who for them all too soon the night as over but we were not short-changed on the three song encore including in the middle of an eight minute Word of Mouth; with its guitar solo with snippets for Hendrix and Wonder and the crowd was now delighted with the magic of Mike and The Mechanics on a Saturday night as they finished with Word Of Mouth.
Set List (as written not in order of play)
1. Beggar On A Beach Of Gold
2. Another Cup of Coffee
3. Get Up
4. Try To Save
5. Seeing Is Believing
6. Silent Running
7. Let Me Fly
7. Turn It On Again
8. The Road
9. Everybody Gets A Second Chance
10. Nobody’s Perfect
11. Cuddly Toy
12. I Can’t Dance
13. The Living Years
14. All I Need Is A Miracle
Over My Shoulder
Word of Mouth
Not Out Of Love