This is Mike and the Mechanics 25th anniversary tour of the release of The Living Years album, I’m expecting lots from it, if not the whole album.
Aaaand… the house lights go down, and the crowd roars its approval as Mike and the Mechanics take to the stage, opening with "Hello Warrington", to the approval of the crowd! Their first song is "Beggar on a Beach of Gold", the audience clapping along, recognised the song straight away. The keyboards are very reminiscent of early Genesis!
And the crowd roars, whistles, cheers and claps it’s approval.
Their second song was "Another cup of Coffee". The audience joined in, it’s such a sad song. Again, as the song finished the crowd roar their approval.
"Get Up" was next, with the vocals pogo-ing together! This band are having fun together! I love it when you can really tell that a band enjoy playing live; the audience feeds off their enthusiasm and the band do back! Great performance! Lovely guitar solo from Mike Rutherford – I think I’m a sucker for a mean guitar – that’s me in my dreams. My acoustic guitar will never sound like that!
Mike tells the audience "It’s Warrington, it’s Sunday night and it’s a great place to be. We’re going to play songs from all our albums; here’s a recent one, this one’s called "Try to save me" ". Good opening keyboards and drums, crowd joins in with the beat. The bass line is good on this tune, really compliments the vocals. The crowd loves this tune as well.
Mike tells the crowd that this is the 25th anniversary tour, and explains the next song is "Seeing is Believing", and has lyrics like Mujahideen, Mao and Richard Nixon in it! He says it’s quite hard to sing. Well, the lead singer makes a great job of it! A good, rocking tune, with Mike playing the guitar like the legend he is!
Mike introduces the band: Luke Juby on keyboards, sax, bass, whistling, spoons; Bass guitar Anthony Drennan; Gary Wallis is the drummer and longest member of the band;
Tim Howar, vocals and visual interpretation; Andrew Roachford on keyboards and great vocals; he didn’t introduce himself, of course.
The next song opens, "Silent Running". Of course, the crowd recognises this one, and joins in (including me!). It’s quite a well behaved audience, very different to the last time I was at Parr Hall – that was for Bellowhead, and downstairs was standing. Well, dancing, actually! Everyone tongiht is still sitting down, but there’s lots of overhead hand clapping action happening! This song featured another fab solo from Mike, he really knows how to make a guitar sing!
The next song is off the Living years album and is "Don’t". Ooo, Mike is on bass now, a very funky rhythm! The lead and keyboards are playing tag – echoing each other’s line. Their musicianship is superb! Sad song, though, about miscommunication in a relationship.
Next up is "This Generation" – one of the "Roachford Files" songs, Mike tells us. Very funky guitar riffs to this one! Tim, the "visual effects" guy is cutting some funky shapes! They stop playing, start clapping, the crowd joins in, they whistle, then suddenly start playing again. The audience seemed to expect this, and join in.
Mike goes back to lead guitar, swapping with the bass player again. Next up is "Turn it on"!!!! A Genesis one. The crowd go wild!!! And yes, I know all the words! Sounds as good as the original! No idea what’s going on with this audience, there’s no one dancing, but we are all singing along. It ends and the crowd go wild! Cries of more – guess there’s a few Genesis fans in the audience.
Mike tells us there’s a load of merch outside; CDs, b sides, a book, another Living Years reworked album and loads of other stuff.
The next song is a new one, "When My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground"; a laid back number with the second keyboard player now on bass. Lovely song, with beautiful lyrics.
Next up was "Cuddly Toy". The crowd are clapping along to this one, clearly popular very funky number. Crowd really enjoyed this one.
Next up is a very recognisable tune, with Mike leading on guitar. It’s "I Can’t Dance" by Genesis. Half of the band are off stage, it’s just Mike, lead singer and keyboards. They come back on as the song tempo picks up, drummer rocking it out! I guess this is as close as I’ll ever get to hearing Genesis play! The crowd yell their approval.
Mike then told us: "We’d like to bring on a very special choir from Warrington, some hearing and some deaf; the Warrington BSL choir. They’re going to do a special song with us, it’s "The Living Years". An utterly beautiful song made even more so by a signing choir. Tell people you love them now, don’t wait until it’s too late, you’ll only regret it if you don’t. Oh, how I love this song, its lyrics are wonderful, the tune is beautiful, the sentiment spot on..
The band got a standing ovation from the whole of Parr Hall.
Next up was "All I Need is a Miracle"! (This song was originally sung by the late Paul Young on both the original recording and the 1996 re-recording). At last, the audience were up on their feet, clapping along, even up in the balcony. People started dancing, too. Great stonking tune!! And yet another great solo from Mike.
The song stopped, and Andrew asked: "Is it time to have a sing song? It’s time, so if I sing it to you, you can sing it back to me?" Yes roared the crowd. We sang: "All I want. All, I need give it to me babe I want it right now". Rinse repeat. Then double time. Just brilliant!
The band left the stage for their pretend end, but I’m left wondering what they’ll play for their encore? The crowd are stamping, clapping, hooting, whistling and cheering, demanding more! Of course the band come back on, to rapturous cheers, and play "Looking back over my shoulder" with the crowd singing along, and all on their feet, even on the balcony! Excellent whistling by Luke! Then it’s the crowds turn to sing. We do a great job of it, and the house lights come up so the band can see us. Everyone is up on their feet, clapping, singing and joining in with the actions as the band start to play "Word of Mouth" the house lights are up again so the band can see us, and they praise us for the good job we’re doing.
Mike asked: Would you like us to do some solos?" The crowd roar yes, and each band member plays a short solo piece whilst the crowd keep the rhythm going. The guitarist plays a little of "Superstition". Then it’s Mikes turn, he’s amazing!!! Oh, my, that drummer is fantastic! And predictably, the crowd go wild! What a good gig! The band take their final bow, the crowd stomp and clap and cheer loudly.
This is a great band, I loved seeing them, it’s my first time; it definitely won’t be my last.
If they’re appearing near you, get yourself there!
© New Review, by Shirley Procter
Pictures by Stuart Redgard