Mike and The Mechanics – A Cover Band ( Sort Of)

These were not your Mother’s Mechanics …

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A legend took the stage last night at Place des Arts. Theatre Maisonneuve was the setting and the Eighties was the era …

No – the legend was not Paul Carrack. The original singer of Mike and The Mechanics ( the late Paul Young was the other original singer ) is on his own and has left the relative new guys; Andrew Roachford and Canadian Tim Howar to sing and – pick up the pieces.

The legend on stage last night was Mike, as in Mike Rutherford ; guitarist and bass player from Genesis. Mike amassed some ‘mechanics’ back in 1985 as a side ( a Supergroup) project from his ‘other’ band. What happened was Mike et al became a sugar free version of Asia ( another Supergoup from the 1980’s). Mike and The Mechanics even managed to grab a few commercial hits much to the surprise of everyone . Think post – Hackett Genesis and that is what Mike and The Mechanics sounded like.

Paul Carrack handled the ballads and Paul Young delivered the ‘rockers’ in the original line up.

Howar and Rutherford
Howar and Rutherford

Fast forward to 2015 …

Andrew Roachford handles the ballads and Tim (where’s the ‘D’ in your last name dude?) Howar handles the ‘rockers’. Aside from the entire band change (Rutherford only original member)  – Mike and The Mechanics sounded the same. The Eighties can do that to music. 

Synthesizer-led songs complete with guitar riffs both hard and fitting – was the recipe for the eighties soup. Formulaic tunes transmitted via video to living rooms everywhere. A sound so indistinct – an entire generation of music became fodder for Karaoke machines. Heck – if John and Helen from down the street could sing ‘All I Need is a Miracle’ at the local Pub, replacing Carrack and Young – as difficult as finding an escort in Ottawa.

Last night it was hit and miss vocally. Roachford hit and Howar missed – mostly. 

Roachford sang professionally and appeared to be content in his own skin. Howar acted as if he was a contestant on The Voice and desperate to appease the judges. A heterosexual Adam Lambert if you will sans the decor of a rock star. No sir – Howar is as Canadian as a Timbit . He even borrowed Neil Young’s plaid shirt and unwashed jeans for the occasion.

Being Canadian may have been the problem. Perhaps Howar was trying too hard  to please the non Facebook Canadian audience and be ‘liked’. For the first half of the show – Howar appeared out of place among his band mates. Without the high pitches, Howar was like David Lee Roth. Not the young Roth with charm and charisma – Howar was more the arm swinging replica of the 2000’s Roth. Tim’s vocals thankfully hit stride half way through and his ‘stride’ on stage finally synced. Roth was gone.

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Roachford was the opposite. As cool as ‘Luke’ during a hot summer gunfight. Whether singing while playing keyboards or grooving back and forth on the stage – Roachford was the oil in the Mechanics’ car. Andrew added the soul to the tunes much the way Carrack did in the eighties. The Yin and the Yan were in place but Howar’s Yan took a while to grab root.

Mike Rutherford is a cross between John Cleese and Michael Gross from Family Ties. A grin on his face the entire show, ebbing and flowing with a feeling that ‘Mike knows something the rest of us do not.’ Reserved in his banter yet there is a Cleese waiting precociously close  to the surface. Waiting to pounce on anyone who falters the towers of Mike and The Mechanics.

Rutherford’s guitar playing ( including a short version of Purple Haze), not outstanding nor insufficient. The right playing for the right music. Rutherford played the same role in Genesis. Mike is a more subdued Hackett and very much rich in Genesis blood.

I Cant Dance and Turn It On Again were the Genesis picks of the soiree. Mike and The Mechanics’ original tunes paled in comparison to the impact songs of his Alma Mater.

‘Another Cup of Coffee’ was sung brilliantly by Roachford and backed up brilliantly by the Mechanics.’ The Living Years’ – that anthem of the eighties, cannot be done poorly. The lyrics and the sullen tone – enough to make Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett all cry while counting their millions. Roachford capturing Carrack’s vocal in perfection. Same can be said for Howar as he took the reigns for ‘All I Need is a Miracle’. Miracle is the Mechanics’ party song. The sing-a-long portion of the show. Surprisingly, the audience sang along but seemed quiet. Part trepidation, part wonderment – part thawing out following a hard winter for the over-forty punters in attendance.

‘Silent Running ( on Dangerous Ground )’set the tone for the evening as the opening number. In between, the band displayed more chops than allowed in an eighties’ song. ” Word of Mouth’ off of Roachford’s solo album, a soulful glimpse into one of the UK’s biggest stars of the 90’s.

Mike and The Mechanics played a lot of covers by Mike and The Mechanics and the band Roachford. 

Who better?

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