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Review: Mike + The Mechanics at New Theatre Oxford

For a pop icon, Mike Rutherford is a surprisingly modest chap.

With his slim build, distinguished features and patrician tones he comes across more as military top brass than a rock star – which was, incidentally, the career his father had mapped out for him before he spoiled everything by forming Genesis.

Yet this is the man responsible for that band’s best tunes and subsequently many other heartfelt classics.

He is, at least, no unsung hero. The New Theatre was packed to the rafters for this show, which took us on a definitive meander through the great man’s career in two sets.

On a stage decorated with hot air balloons carrying album sleeve art, Mike and core Mechanics Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar treated fans to a slick and beautifully strung together show which took in just enough of their new stuff (from soon-to be-released album Out of the Blue) while serving up the crowd-pleasers we were there to hear.

And they came thick and fast with Another Cup of Coffee and Genesis hit Land of Confusion in the first half. We also had Roachford’s own hit, the soulful Cuddly Toy – a standout moment of the show. Roachford’s voice is among the best anywhere, rich, warm, soothing and full of flavour – like hot custard flowing over sticky toffee pudding.

The second half opened with an absolute treat –an acoustic version of Genesis gem Follow You Follow Me, the stripped back arrangement (even drummer Gary Wallis was up front on a single drum) allowing the words to breath. It was a bit of a choker, and anyone left with a dry eye was promptly left blubbing with bittersweet The Living Years.

Roachford’s sung intro had the crowd gasping and sighing, while a quick glance around the auditorium revealed partners throwing arms around each other and fingers discretely wiping away tears.

It’s hard to come back from a showstopper like that but Mike and his crew had a few more aces up their sleeves, with a stirring cover of Genesis tune I Can’t Dance followed by All I Need is Miracle, Over My Shoulder and ending in a sing-along to Word of Mouth.

It was an emotional roller-coaster for sure, and a textbook lesson in expert musicianship and keeping your fans happy. Come back soon Mike!

© Oxfordmail, by Tim Hughes

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