Mike and the Mechanics – 25th February – Symphony Hall – Birmingham

We had such a great time in Birmingham at the Symphony Hall in 2015 with the Mechanics, that there was no hesitation when the 2017 tour was announced to obtain our tickets.

Although in 2015 two new songs where previewed (Let Me Fly) it was assumed that a new album would have been released before this 2017 tour commenced, whilst that is not the case this time I am pleased to announce that the new album Let Me Fly is to be released on the 7th April 2017.

Brand new album to be released on the 7th April 2017 – LET ME FLY.

Track Listing

1. Let Me Fly
2. Are You Ready
3. Wonder
4. The Best Is Yet to Come
5. Save the World
6. Don’t Know What Came over Me
7. High Life
8. The Letter
9. Not Out of Love
10. Love Left Over
11. I’ll Be There for You
12. Save My Soul

We were not to know that tonight we would be treated to five songs from this album with Let Me Fly feeling very comfortable because we had all been treated to it during the 2015 show.

The Run up to the show

We had purchased our tickets about a year before the tour commenced this was when they had gone on sale and it looked as though they were being snapped up quite quickly. Time passes apace and soon we found ourselves on the train making our way to the gorgeous Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

Two years previous we saw the Mechanics in the same venue, thus we were well prepared as what tonight’s offering could be. Unfortunately we missed the support act. As we were waiting, we had a drink from the bar and I happened to notice drummer Gary Wallis chatting with some friends. I waited patiently for Gary to conclude his conversation and then I approached him for a small chat. I explained how I saw him with the band here in 2015, the night he managed to split his bass drum skin during Word Of Mouth (he remarked that happens often as he is heavy on his feet) I also reminisced about how I bumped into him at the Shepherds Bush gig in 2004 when he was arranging passes for his friends and family. We exchanged pleasantries but clearly Gary had other matters to attend to so we shook hands and I wished him well for tonight’s gig.

No filming and No Photograph’s – Still some folk got lucky towards the end of the show with their smartphones!

I did spot Luke Juby also but I thought he probably wanted time to himself to gather his thoughts before he was due on stage.

The venue had a strict policy on the taking of photographs and to be fair they did place up a sign warning people as much, even forbidding smartphones from taking photos. To put it mildly it was a busy night for the stewards who frequently were tasked with politely patting people on the shoulder and reminding them of the policy.

We got to our seats in row D, the road crew were working hard to clear the support acts equipment whilst doing last-minute checks on the Mechanics gear and equipment. Lots of unclear mumbles down the mics to make sure they still worked for the live sound engineer, the occasional stab at the keyboards and thump of drums for the sound engineer to try and gauge the sound in the venue and for the road crew to double check everything worked, especially after they had unplugged some of the leads and equipment for the support act.

Road crew just finishing up and those flight cases with the holes cut in them.

On the previous tour they had used flight cases as part of the design, and this appeared to be the case. However, at first I thought that the old Genesis flight cases had a vinyl stuck to them but as the set progressed I noticed that these were holes cut with a jigsaw – a pity some would say. It turned out they had stuck par cans in the base of the cases so light would fill the case and burst out. This lighting effect is used to great effect during Silent Running so I can forgive the guy who butchered the flight cases.

The Show

When it was time for the Mechanics to enter the stage the house lights came down and the brand new track Are You Ready, from the brand new album Let Me Fly, begun and that was a bold move. It went down well and really worked as an opener. It’s a good statement to how strong some of the new material is.

Second song was more familiar territory in the form of Another Cup Of Coffee. It has been a long time since I saw this performed by the Mechanics, this was a first for me with the new lime up though. Tonight’s version was enjoyable and the band seemed to carve their own niche into this well-known song. Throughout they avoided emulation of Carrack or Young, and thoroughly employed their own stamp on it. Of course the music video was on heavy rotation on VH1 when it came out in 1995, so the audience did seem to know it well, a few people were even dancing along, although a little odd due to the subject matter of the song.

Get Up was next, again I had only heard this once before at a Mechanics gig at Shepherds Bush in 2004 but again tonight’s version seem to have a new niche in it that made the song sound just as inspiring and motivational. Very enjoyable and more of the audience tried to sing along which created a lovely atmosphere.

Silent Running is a classic song that I have seen the Mechanics do before. But tonight’s performance coupled with the lighting and those lights positioned in the flight cases seemed to add an claustrophobic air to the song. There was a slightly different ending so instead of the synthesiser ending it ended with Gary Wallis doing his thing.

Save The World was another treat, from the as yet unreleased album Let Me Fly. It’ll be great to hear the studio recording of this soon. Following was classic Genesis track, Land Of Confusion, Mike Rutherford’s first protest song (he wrote the lyrics). With a lot of energy and Tim singing more akin to the Disturbed version it amplified the rallying cry of a soapbox protestor energising their supporters. This was an opportunity for audience participation with the Whoa Whoa Ohhh bit etc. Some people even clenched their fists as though the cause was unifying them.

New track High Life was another song from the new album and this had a different mood and feel to Land Of Confusion. Wonder followed quite quickly and this is another new song from the album, but Let Me Fly came swiftly afterwards and this is the title track of the new album. Let Me Fly was performed when we saw the Mechanics at the same venue in 2015. As this is a tour in support of an album yet to be released it is interesting to note how audiences received certain tracks and good for the band to road-test songs to see those of which should stick around.

The Mechanics in particular Tim and Andrew made constant humour filled announcements in between songs about the release date of the new album, it became a rather amusing sketch and it was becoming more hilarious as to which one would trigger the other to mention it’s release dat (7th April) I guess you had to be there on the night!.

A Beggar On A Beach Of Gold saw the audience in more comfortable surroundings of a song they knew well. Some were dancing and others singing along transfixed the high energy on stage. It was Andrew Roachford’s opportunity to bring Cuddly Toy to the audience and people clapped along, some singing with gusto and people even got up. This followed a similar format with audience participation much like the 2015 show but this time Andrew only asked Gary Wallis to tell him 21 times instead of the 23 times that a cheeky audience member asked for in 2015.

I Can’t Dance saw a lot of audience participation from the dormant Genesis fans in the audience, with Tim and Mike doing that walk and Mike seemed to be having just as much fun as he would have done had it of been Genesis. Tim dug deep for a passion filled swipe at Jean’s commercials (the models that populate them) and the audience had a nostalgic moment.

The 1995 hit Over My Shoulder was next up and everyone was into this and we had entered an up tempo section of the show. Luke Juby had Mike’s Yamaha TRB 5 bass in his hands when he came to the main microphone on stage to do the whistling bit. Tim reminded everyone to applaud loudly for Luke’s whistling efforts.

All I Need Is A Miracle, this seemed like the up tempo 1996 remix version with a passion filled remembrance to original member Paul Young from Tim. Tim and the band tread with care on this technically difficult song to sing and it captured the party mood well.

Over a hundred minutes had passed by with ease, the band took their bows and everyone was still on their feet stomping and clapping for more.

The band returned to their instruments and the first notes of Living Years started, this still carries the poignancy over 25 years later. The audience was a mix of emotions but the high of the party had changed into somber reflection and an outpouring of emotions for some.

I think that’s Anthony soloing on the guitar during Word Of Mouth

The audience joined in on the chorus and some must have felt better for the souls all paying reverence for such an almost hymn like moment.

A bit of a moment there and then Word Of Mouth began, now this closed the show but it had a similar vein as the 2015 tour version. High energy from the first note and the band were not sitting back here at all. The audience all joined in and most were stood up for this final song of the night.

The band members all got to solo a few pieces, Anthony Drennan reminded us all that we were in Birmingham with a few bars of The Crossroads theme tune, Andrew Roachford gave us Superstition and Mike did his very best Jimi Hendrix impression with Purple Haze, Gary had a lot of space for a drum solo that was acoustically interesting and it seemed to be a generous offering, like all good nights it was soon time for Gary to revert back to the song, there was a standing ovation given by all and then the house lights were on and it was time to leave.

SET LIST

  • Are You Ready (brand new track)
    Another Cup Of Coffee
    Get Up
    Silent Running
    Save The World (brand new track)
    The Best Is Yet To Come (brand new track)
    Land Of Confusion
    High Life (brand new track)
    Wonder (brand new track)
    Let Me Fly (brand new track)
    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 (Extend with medley including):
  • Crossroads theme tune
    Superstition
    Purple Haze
    Gary Wallis Drum Solo

Luke, Tim, Andrew, Mike, Gary and Anthony bow before the Birmingham crowd at the end of the night!

LINE UP

Mike Rutherford – Guitar / Bass Guitar

Andrew Roachford – Keyboards / Vocals

Tim Howar – Vocals / Percussion

Anthony Drennan – Guitar

Gary Wallis – Drums / Percussion

Luke Juby – Keyboards / Yamaha Bass guitar

Thank to all for a fantastic night, looking forward to the new album on the 7th April…..

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