It's a quarter of a century since Mike and the Mechanics had a worldwide smash with The Living Years. Written about his father, who died in 1987, after all these years, Mike Rutherford now feels closer to the man who brought him up than ever.
That’s because the musician has just brought out a book, The Living Years, focusing on his father’s unpublished memoirs, as well as Mike’s thoughts and memories.
"It’s not a sex, drugs and rock ’ n’ roll review," Mike, who is at Sage Gateshead tonight with the Mechanics, tells me. "Everyone’s done that and if you are not Keith Richards, it’s all second division really.
"It’s really my father’s unpublished memoirs, which are really very funny, and it’s about that huge generational change in the ’50s when, up until the ’60s, young men aspired to become their father. In the ’60s they aspired to be anything but their father.
"It took me a couple of years to put together. It stops in 1987 when my father died and the Mechanics did The Living Years. It was a nice thing to do and nice to see my father’s book in print.
"I ended up feeling closer to my father than from when I started the book. In the ’80s, when he died, I was very busy in my selfish bubble, flying around the world. My career was flying with Genesis and the Mechanics, and I got wrapped up in my own life.
"He was growing old and frail and I didn’t really see him that much and then suddenly he was gone – he just died in his sleep one night.
"The book is trying to encourage people to tap into their parents because, when they go, a lot of memories will go."
Formed in 1985 by Genesis founding member Mike, Mike and The Mechanics had a series of hit songs including Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground), All I Need Is A Miracle, Word Of Mouth and Over My Shoulder. However, it was with The Living Years, that the band went on to have the biggest hit of their career.
Now, a quarter of a century on, the track takes pride of place on The Singles 1985-2014 , a collection of hits, B-Sides and rarities along with a new track When My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground, and a previously unheard track from the vaults, One By One.
There’s also The Living Years 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition album, which celebrates this musical milestone with a host of special extras. Along with the original studio album, the two-CD set features a bonus disc of live recordings from the 1989 Living Years UK tour, along with the song The Living Years 2014, which has been re-recorded with the South African Isango Choir and Andrew Roachford on lead vocals.
"The Sage is one of the more popular venues for us," Mike tells me of tonight’s show. "The Mechanics never toured very much in the early days. About three years ago I had some songs I thought sounded ‘Mechanicsy’, then I got together with Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, and it’s been a lot of fun.
"It’s kind of like starting anew in some respects. Initially, I was thinking I’m going around here again – I was here 40 years ago, is it OK to be doing it again? It’s not like someone said to me, ‘actually, Mike, that’s enough, get out of here’.
"I want to play what I enjoy playing. That may sound selfish, but I think I’m allowed to be selfish really. That’s why I keep doing it and what keeps me going," he smiles.
© Chroniclelive, by Gordon Barr