Four years after he said Mike & The Mechanics had run its course, Mike Rutherford has engineered a new band of machinists now that his regular group, Genesis, are unlikely to reconvene any time soon.
Rutherford's credible side-project have spawned many well-known singles since debuting in 1985, so it was a bit disappointing to see so many empty seats.
It was also a shame not to see original M&M vocalist, Paul Young, onstage, either, having departed for the great gig in the sky last year. Another founding member, Paul Carrack, was also absent - the multi-instrumentalist now focusing on a solo venture.
Replacing them wasn't going to be easy. However, the new appointments do come as a surprise. Featuring R'n'B singer and keyboardist Andrew Roachford (famous for 1989 chart hit Cuddly Toy) and Canadian theatre actor Tim Howar, this undoubtedly talented twosome appear mismatched, yet not entirely unsuited to Rutherford's epic brand of power-pop.
Kicking off with The Road, the title track to their seventh studio album, Howar wasted little time in trying to cajole the audience into life with his over-the-top cheerleading style. Unfortunately, the majority of the 'crowd' were merely content to sit quietly and be entertained, the ironically-titled Get Up coaxing only a handful of fans into clapping along.
Rutherford, meanwhile, was his usual unassuming self; noticeable only by his height and dextrous guitar playing. "I'm still the same old Mike," he muttered, in a rare volley to the audience.
Howar, bless him, however, was still acting like an over-excited children's TV presenter. Determined to maintain a party-like atmosphere throughout, his attempts to start-up some call-and-response singing during All I Need Is A Miracle would have been better suited at a McFly concert instead.
That said, an acoustic rendition of Over My Shoulder was a welcome change of pace, as was the surprise addition of Genesis' I Can't Dance.
Roachford, though, did eventually get everyone on their feet during an encore that featured - yes, you guessed it - Cuddly Toy. It's just a shame the audience didn't get into the swing of things earlier.
© Scotsman, by Barry Gordon
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