Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Mike + The Mechanics have long since amassed one of rock’s most enviable catalogues.
A bona fide supergroup founded by Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford, singers such as Paul Carrack and the late Paul Young have passed through its ranks, helping to build the group’s global success.
After a hiatus in the mid-00s, Rutherford re-ignited The Mechanics at the end of the decade, starting work on a new record in 2009. Early sessions produced several tracks, including ‘Background Noise’ and ‘Hunt You Down’, featuring vocals from platinum-selling singer-songwriter Arno Carstens: a gifted South African whose previous credits include award-winning discs with popular South African alt.rockers The Springbok Nude Girls and collaborations with Killing Joke’s Youth.
By the time they completed their 2011 comeback album, The Road, an all-new Mechanics Mk II line-up had slotted into place, with guitarist Anthony Drennan, keyboardist Luke Juby and drummer Wallis augmenting the nucleus of Mike Rutherford and new co-vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar.
Once again, Rutherford has chosen his collaborators wisely. No stranger to success on his own terms, Andrew Roachford initially came to prominence in the late 80s, fronting his London-based rock, pop and soul outfit Roachford. Following a series of high-profile tours with the likes of Terence Trent D’Arby and The Christians, his versatile quartet signed with Columbia and immediately scaled the UK Top 20 with their 1988 debut, Roachford, featuring the hits ‘Family Man’ and evergreen British Top 10 smash ‘Cuddly Toy’. The band scored further big-selling LPs during the 90s with Get Ready!, Permanent Shade Of Blue and Feel, while, in the 21st Century, Andrew has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim for solo LPs such as Heart Of The Matter and 2013’s The Beautiful Moment.
Canadian-born vocal foil Tim Howar also has an illustrious past, with his lengthy list of credits taking in triumphant performances in both music and theatre. A veteran of Canadian productions of Broadway shows, he was involved in the Canadian Cast Recording of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and – after successfully making the transition to London’s West End – he appeared in the 2001 production of musical Peggy Sue Got Married and later played the male lead (Roger Davis) in rock opera Rent, loosely based upon the Puccini opera La Bohème. Prior to joining Mike + The Mechanics, Tim sang in London-based rock outfit Van Tramp and, in 2013, starred as Stacee Jaxx in the London production of Rock Of Ages at the Garrick Theatre.
Musically, The Mechanics’ engine room remains finely tuned. Guitarist Anthony Drennan grew up in County Dublin, Ireland, and developed a musical talent from an early age. He first worked with Mike Rutherford when he replaced long-time live guitarist Daryl Stuermer on Genesis’ 1998 Calling All Stations tour, and his wider CV includes stints with Irish pop sensations The Corrs and legendary Emerald Isle folk performers including Moving Hearts, Davy Spillane and The Ronnie Drew Band. Keyboardist Luke Juby, meanwhile, has played with artists as diverse as Paul McCartney, Westlife and Kelly Clarkson, and drummer Gary Wallis (brother of ex-Pink Fairies/Motörhead guitarist Larry) has trodden the boards with David Bowie, Sir Tom Jones and the post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd.
This freshly minted line-up gelled seamlessly on The Road: an exciting, envelope-pushing release, with Andrew Roachford starring on memorable tracks such as the soaring pop/rock anthem ‘Try To Save Me’ and the gospel-tinged titular song. Tim Howar comes into his own on the dance-inflected pop of ‘Oh No’, while the band collectively come up trumps on the country-flecked ‘Hunt You Down’. In support of the album, they embarked on a well-received European tour during 2011 and have recently announced an extensive tour of the UK and Ireland for the spring of 2017. The 32-date itinerary includes a show at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall and the setlist promises all the hits – and even hints at selections from Mike Rutherford’s venerated Genesis songbook.
© udiscovermusic, by Tim Peacock