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Mike & The Mechanics on DVD for the first time

Contrary to expectations the story of Mike & The Mechanics did not end with the Paul Young’s tragic death, but was continued in the remarkable release of an experimental album called Rewired. The change of name from the Mechanics to Mike & The Mechanics & Paul Carrack is a special gimmick. So is the fact that Mike Rutherford and the Mechanics were the opening band for Phil Collins’ final European tour. A peculiar situation for Genesis fans.

liveshotsAttendants of previous Mechanics tours reported that the show were rather short, but very entertaining and that the band had a remarkable live presence. The lively mix of two Pauls at the microphone and excellent guest musicians gave Mike & The Mechanics the reputation of a professional live band. Great musicians such as Tim Renwick, Gary Wallis (both toured with Pink Floyd in 1994), Jamie Moses (currently on tour with Queen + Paul Rodgers) performed with The Mechanics. It is therefore a paradoxon that the band never put out a live album. Hopes for one did not really rise after Rewired. When asked about it in the it-interview in early summer 2004, Mike Rutherford doubted that there was enough demand for it. The performances opening for Phil’s show would hardly be recorded and there were very few other Mechanics shows. Then a couple of performances were announced for September, among them a show at the good old Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. This show before an attendance crowd was filmed to be released as a live DVD. The initiative came not from the band but by Eagle Rock Entertainment who have now released it.

Technical details

The DVD runs for 127 minutes, 75 of which cover the concert. The image is in 16:9, the new standard which supersedes the old 4:3 format even on TV. In Europe it is a PAL CD, while the DVDs on the American market use the NTSC standard. It is region code free and compatible to both X-Box and Playstation-2. For sound you can choose between Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and high-resolution dts Surround: The DVD meets all technical requirements for a convincing performance.

The concert film

The short concert (only 75 minutes) benefits from camera movements that are now lively, now calm, and from the venue: Three galleries and the floor guarantee a cozy live feeling. The sound is clear as could be. Sometimes one would wish for more stress on the electric guitars. It also appears that the audience has been mixed into the background at times. The audio mix, for what it’s worth, was done by Gary Wallis who plays the drums on this show.
There is a familiar face on the percussion, Peter van Hooke. The second (and often lead) guitar is played by Jamie Moses, while Rupert Cobb, who can also be heard on Rewired, plays the keyboards. Two background singers, Abbie Osmon and Paul McGee complete the live band around Paul Carrack and Mike Rutherford. It is notable that Paul Carrack did not once play the keyboards during the show.

The setlist is a colourful mix of old and not-so-old hits and a couple of songs from the new album. Now That You’ve Gone once more turns out to be a first-class pop song. Paul very often avoids the high notes on it, though. Instead we are surprised by a trumpet solo played by Rupert Cobb. There is an interesting (spontaneous?) change in the lyrics. While the original lyrics go „I’m just a shadow of the man I used to be, before you turned me inside out“, it now is „…before you came to my rescue“. Jamie Moses has two opportunities for a brief guitar solo in Get Up while Mike plays the bass guitar on this and the following number, If I were You. The new song is as convincing as the opener Falling. Mike Rutherford explains that it is the very first time they played Perfect Child live before the band plays it perfectly.

coverThe atmosphere peaks during the double feature from the Beggar album. Another Cup Of Coffee is still played very often on the radio. It was no superhit at the time, but a pleasant ditty. A Beggar On A Beach Of Gold is more interesting because it was originally sung by Paul Young. Paul Carrack mentions this in his introduction and proceeds to do a terrific job singing it. The song sounds different, of course, but not necessarily to the worse.
The Mechanics take up an idea from the 1998 Genesis shows and play a couple of unplugged songs featuring two songs from M6, Whenever I Stop and All The Light I Need.  Gary Wallis comes to the front to play percussions. As on every tour, shivers run down the spine when The Mechanics play their greatest hit ever, the hymnic The Living Years Mike wrote when his father passed on. Over My Shoulder, in contrast, makes everybody swing.
The final encore is a powerful Word Of Mouth. Paul Carrack does not really try to sing this song. He leaves the job to Paul McGee. McGee makes a good job of it, but of course he cannot keep up with the charisma and energy of Paul Young’s voice. Just when the audience on all levels of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire feel that the band really gets going, the concert is over. 75 minutes of brilliant pop from a band who have been active for some twenty years now. That’s not a whole lot for six studio records and many chart and radio hits. 


specialThe bonus material consists of seven Mechanics video that, however, only come in stereo (Silent Running, The Living Years, Word Of Mouth, Over My Shoulder, A Beggar On A  Beach Of Gold, Another Cup Of Coffee and One Left Standing). There also is a 15-minute look behind the scenes which is mainly made up of interviews with Paul and Mike. We also get the hear the band rehearse I Don’t Want It All that is not included on the DVD (and was not played in London). There are some video snippets from Phil Collins’ shows last summer for which The Mechanics were the opening act.  

All in all

75 minutes of music, seven promo videos and a fifteen minute special – the Mechanics come forth with their first live DVD. There could have been more, but the material on the DVD is a fine selection. The sound is clear, the image too, and the location is a very special one. The live band plays is very professional , they have a lot of routine and you get the impression that they have a lot of fun doing it, no matter whether they’re playing acoustically of electrically.

The band cannot claim to have freed themselves of one thing, though: Paul Young is still on the minds of everybody in the band. It seems that Paul Carrack is making a particular effort singing A Beggar On A Beach Of Gold. His singing on One Left Standing is peculiar, though. He always leaves off the chorus line „how come I am the one left standing“ and sings „how come I am the river flowing“ twice instead.

The band plays a good solid, but brief concert. If you have seen many Mechanics shows, you may miss Paul Young. If you approach the show with an open mind you will enjoy the performance. The videos are an interesting extra, the backstage special almost mandatory. Live At Shepherd’s Bush London is another good effort to join the flood of DVD releases from the Genesis Camp. Mike & Paul have passed their first test after the comeback. They are now Mechanically Re-staged.

by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

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