“Local Mechanic Makes Good” Mike + The Mechanics in concert at the Apollo Theatre Manchester on Sunday 5th March 1989. Review and photographs by Ted Sayers. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
It seemed a long time coming but the first UK Mechanics gig (ever) eventually turned into a rapturous homecoming party for local boy; Paul Young. For those of you that don’t know - yes, Paul Young is from Manchester!
From the opening of Nobody’s Perfect, the Mechanics were in top gear (if you’ll pardon the pun) but the audience were firmly determined to stay seated. The atmosphere felt slightly lacking in something but the band were giving it their all. The third song into the set was the first “hit single” Silent Running - even this didn’t get the audience up! Now, don’t get me wrong, the band and each individual song were given ecstatic welcomes but don’t worry, the band didn’t have to shift into any higher gear, the audience were finally brought to their feet near the end of The Living Years when a party of revellers from further back calmly walked to the front. Pandemonium broke out as the rest of the audience scrambled for a place nearer the band (we had a head start on them being in Row B!)
And that was it, the party finally did swing. It was a little late coming but certainly better late than never! It wasn’t just Paul Young’s party though, both vocalists were superb but at times Carrack was holding a little back. Adrian Lee almost got carried away taking off the majority of his clothing! And what about Mike? Well, he was his usual self, playing with a calm which he has gathered over the years. In a way he seemed perfectly willing to take a back seat while the rest enjoyed themselves.
This new Mechanics set shows just how many strong songs are on the two albums. The show is made up entirely of material from these two albums with only Blame and You Are The One left out. Mike, B A Robertson and Chris Neil have become exceptionally adept at writing anthemia rock songs. You don’t realise how many are contained on these two albums until you witness the band live. As I already mentioned, Silent Running was the third track. Now if asked before I would have said the place for this semi anthem would have been as an encore but no.
The anthemia songs came along with alarming regularity; Why Me? Was early on. The Living Years wasn’t at the end but about two thirds of the way through the set and A Call To Arms was around the same area. I have always felt that these songs were great for ending shows or even as encores.
How did it end? As it turned out, the party was in full swing so we rocked to a close with the classy All I Need Is A Miracle and we really got down with the only encore - Poor Boy Down. The band gave a great rock performance. Doubtless, many music(?) critics will knock them for being some sort of dinosaur-like super group, but this is still popular music despite all that the punk era tried to erase. The concert was a complete sell-out so they must be doing something right!
The Set: Nobody’s Perfect/Seeing Is Believing/Silent Running/Don’t/Nobody Knows/ Hanging By A Thread/Why Me?/Taken In/Beautiful Day/Black & Blue/Par Avion/A Call To Arms/The Living Years/I Get The Feeling/Take The Reins/All I Need Is A Miracle/Poor Boy Down.