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Mike + The Mechanics - Dresden, Alter Schlachthof

Everybody Gets A Second Chance ...


In 2011, Mike Rutherford won over the audiences with the excellent choice of new singers on the acclaimed Hit The Road tour. In 2012 Mike + The Mechanics returned to Germany with mostly the same line-up. This time the tour is simply called HITS, and it comes to other places than they visited the year before. Like the previous year, they played a mixture of ‘normal’ club shows, larger festivals and city festivals.

This was the first time the band played Dresden. The city has seen performances by Ray Wilson (see article here) as well as Peter Gabriel and The Musical Box. Andrew Roachford also played solo in Dresden, at the 'Alter Schlachthof', which is a club in the Leipziger Vorstadt/Pieschen quarter close to the Elbe river. It plays host to lots of very worthwhile concerts. A big bonus is that it is standing only – a great choice of venue for a Mechanics show!

MikeBefore the German shows the band played gigs in the UK, but the very beginning would be a show at the KIELER WOCHE. Heated debates broke out among fans what they expected from the set and what ought to be changed. The band fulfilled one of the loudest demands by bringing back Silent Running into the set. They also surprised the Kiel audience by playing I Get The Feeling from their debut album and The Way You Look At Me from Word Of Mouth. Both songs were quite unexpected, but both soon vanished again from the set.

While the band exhibited a certain backlog in Kiel as far as the smooth progression of the set was concerned, that was definitely no issue anymore when they played Dresden. The band arrived a bit late at the venue so that the doors opened a bit later because of the soundcheck. Gary Wallis was early, though, which had to do with his touring schedule. He plays simultaneously, as it were, on Tom Jones and the Mechanics’ tours and tries to play most of the shows. His stand-in Ben Stone has been seen at various Mechanics shows before. Gary explained the situation in our interview with him.

The soundcheck was a mixture of sound and vocal tests and some fine tuning. They did not play a full songs, but tried fragments of various songs and jammed a little, apparently without a clear direction (see our interview with Andrew Roachford).  In the time between the soundcheck and the show there was time for the interviews with Mike Rutherford, Anthony Drennan and Luke Juby before the band went on stage at a quarter past eight. There were many readers/members of the fanclub and the online forum in the audience, which gave a familiar tour to the show.

AndrewThe Alte Schlachthof war quite full, though not nearly sold-out. The opener was A Beggar On A Beach Of Gold, which Tim Howar dedicated to the memory of Paul Young. That song also saw the first mishap, when Gary Wallis started waving hectically on the drums and the band played on a bit without the drums, because they apparently believed Gary could soon join back in. That did not work out, so they solved the problem and restarted the song. This did not dampen the mood at all, on the contrary, this ‘human’ part of the live show lifted the audience’s spirits even more. Get Up was next, one of the few non-hits in the set. It is well-placed at the beginning of the set and prompted the audience to jump up and down, incited by the stage-hoppers Roachford and Howar. Both their vocals were at their best despite a cold that affected them both.

The next song was Try To Save Me. Roachford announced it, as is his wont, as Try To Save, and Mike had good fun shouting a “Me” after that. As in 2011, the song works well with the slower intro and is one of the catchy hits this band has. Roachford played keyboards on this (and other songs), which looks a bit funny at times, because his keyboard has the size of a child’s toy instrument.

Another Cup Of Coffee is a huge classic hit that was received accordingly before Mike himself introduced one of the surprises in the 2012 set, Throwing It All Away: “When we started with this, I was very kneen not to play any Genesis songs – and then I thought fuck it”, and the band played a relaxed version of Throwing It All away in much the same style Genesis used to play it in, complete with audience participation. Tim Howar sang on this song.

 

As in 2011, Roachford played two songs solo. This Generation, the first one, sort of replaced Only To Be With You and followed Throwing It All Away in the set. This Generation fits the Mechanics set better and was much enjoyed by the audience.


Acoustic Set

AnthonyThen something new happened: the band sat down and played three songs in semi-acoustic versions. This may remind some of the Calling All Stations tour when Genesis did something similar and played a number of songs in very easy versions. The Road was the first one. The title track of the album was played all-electric as the opening song in 2011, but it works just as well in a semi-acoustic version. The song after that was a Ballad, A Time And Place which probably was not the fans’ first choice, but Roachford presented the song in a fresh new style with less instruments – no comparison to the slightly schmaltzy sound of the album version. One can say the same for Everybody Gets A Second Chance, another surprising choice. Interestingly, this Carrack song is performed not by Roachford but by Howar, thus breaking the rule of ‘Roachford sings Carrack, Howar sings Young’ for the first time. Everybody Gets A Second Chance has won a lot in the new version. The snappy style is infectious and Tim does a great version.


When the bar stools had been removed again one could hear the first notes of Silent Running, a song the band had bypassed in 2011. Though the version was close to the album version (particularly in the intro), but the Mechanics may never have played this song so well before – absolutely gripping, and Roachford in high spirits. He also continued with Cuddly Toy, a solo classic of his. Like last year, he played a game with Gary Wallis who had to play the number of snare drum beats Roachford told him to play. Tim Howar also had to join in with his tambourine – perfect atmosphere before and on the stage. Two Genesis songs were next, both sung by Tim Howar and both, unsurprisingly and like Throwing It All Away, are compositions with a strong Rutherford influence. The audience enjoyed Follow You Follow Me and I Can’t Dance, though many fans wonder why they did not simply play Mechanics songs ...

LukeRoachford continues with a very emotional version of the biggest hit the band ever had: The Living Years. It was one of the moments when the venue fell comparatively silent. Even after a quarter of a century this is a touching balled, for almost everybody can relate to the topic. The justly frenetic applause moves on into All I Need Is A Miracle, where Tim Howar does a terrific performance and get the audience to sing along. Then the band left the stage ...


With the encores of Over My Shoulder and Word Of Mouth the band brought the audience to the boiling point again. Luke ‘The Whistler’ Juby received a special applause though he had slight problems whistling this time. Since neither Roachford nor Howar can whistle properly it has become Luke Juby’s job to do that. Despite a slight cold he did a great performance.

The end was a strong Word Of Mouth that was extended by the band introduction and jams. Everybody was introduced by Tim (except for Tim, who was introduced by Andrew) and had the opportunity to shine on their instrument. Mike’s jam included a bit from Purple Haze. After some 100 minutes the show was over, the band said good-bye and left an enthusiastic audience.


TimOne may have different opinions on whether 100 minutes are enough for a band with their repertoire, but this set did work very well. It will always be impossible to please everybody with the choice of songs, but what one never should do is make one’s decision whether to see a show or not dependent from the set list on paper: The acoustic part with A Time And Place and Everybody Gets A Second Chance looks rather boring on paper, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the show. Silent Running was the absolute highpoint of the 2012 shows, and Mike Rutherford may be right when he said (in our interview with him) that this song has never sounded so well. Throwing It All Away one could do without, though it works well. The exchange of Roachford songs (This Generation for Only To Be With You) was a very good move. It is a bit of a pity that they play only two songs from the new album The Road; Tim in particular only sings old songs. Two perfect duet opportunity have been dropped from the set with If I Were You and Nobody Knows. One can be sure, though, that Nobody Knows will return to the set next year when the band go on their Living Years 25 tour. The M6 album remains unregarded. Still, the Mechanics prove once more an excellent live band that plays excellent pop music. We will not be wrong to expect even more exciting things from them, for one thing is certain: The whole band from Mike Rutherford to Gary Wallis are extremely eager to continue. And if you have not seen the band yet, you ought to do so soon.


By Christian Gerhardts, English by Martin Klinkhardt
Photos by Holger Lorenz
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