“Revving Up in the North West“ - Mike & The Mechanics in concert at the Pavilion Rhyl on Wednesday 12th February and Floral Pavilion New Brighton on Saturday 22nd February 2014. Review by Alan Hewitt. Photographs by Stuart Barnes and Alan Hewitt. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
Well, I have heard of bands cooking up a storm but this was ridiculous! Rhyl, like so much of the UK at the moment was being battered by incessant storms and high winds when we arrived in time to conduct the exclusive interview with the band which you can read later in this edition.
The Rhyl Pavilion was another new venue for me and for the band too, as this was only their fourth or fifth gig in Wales. A lovely theatre, just the right setting for a gig by the Mechanics and despite the atrocious weather, the theatre was almost full to capacity when the band hit the stage.
With a show supposedly drawing its inspiration from the Living Years album, there were only three offerings from that album tonight, the aforementioned Nobody’s Perfect, Don’t which featured some nifty vocal trade-offs between Roachford and Howar, and the iconic title track which despite the sound problems, still managed to have the predictable effect on yours truly!
A Mechanics show these days is not complete without a nod to Mike’s day job and tonight we got a raucous version of Turn It On Again or rather it would have been raucous if the sound had been better! At times it was difficult to hear either Tim Howar or keyboards man Luke Juby’s efforts which was disappointing as they were evidently putting some serious welly into the evening’s performance. I Can’t Dance made a somewhat predictable appearance and gained some response from the rather reserved crowd.
Roachford’s solo career got a look in tonight as well with a brace of songs from the “Roachford Files” as he referred to them. My Generation (Not to be confused with The Who track of the same name) and the ubiquitous Cuddly Toy went down extremely well.
By the time we reached the show’s climax with All I Need Is A Miracle the band had the audience in the palm of their hands and encores of Over My Shoulder and Word Of Mouth brought the evening’s performance to a suitably energetic conclusion.
If a week is a long time in politics it can be an eternity between gigs and so it proved to be when I managed to take in my second gig by the band in a week. After watching the band sound check and a lengthy chat with drummer, Gary Wallis and an extended stint chatting informally to the rest of the band, we took our seats with an excellent view of the stage (thanks Pud!). The first thing I had noticed whilst watching the sound check was the absence of the LED lighting poles (I am sure they have a much more interesting technical name but that’s what they looked like to me folks!) which had been the primary (and largely ineffective) lighting effect at Rhyl. Tonight the lighting was to prove to be much more effective and certainly helped generate much of the “mood” and “atmosphere” which is always a strong point of Mechanics shows.
As soon as the band took the stage it was also evident that there was to be no repetition of the sound problems which had dogged the Rhyl show. Right from the start the band were taking no prisoners and what we had tonight was something just a bit special.
Classic followed classic as the band once again reiterated exactly how much a class act The Mechanics were - and still are! How could you possibly not enjoy such evergreens as Over My Shoulder, Silent Running and Get Up?
In a show of almost two hours’ duration it was a sheer delight to watch the new line up breathe fresh life into songs we know so well. For me, the highlights included storming versions of Nobody’s Perfect, Don’t, Silent Running and All I Need Is A Miracle in which the entire band really put their feet to the floor with breathtaking performances.
Roachford’s solo offerings: My Generation and Cuddly Toy got a great (and deserved) reception from the crowd as did Mike’s nod to his “other band” in the shape of a rough and ready Turn It On Again and the predictable but enjoyable I Can’t Dance which featured some serious mugging up to the audience by Tim Howar. We even got some indication of the direction the new album might be taking with the wonderful When My Feet Don’t Touch the Ground which was also well received.
Time really did pass in the blink of an eye and it was over all too soon as the band gave us their encores: Over My Shoulder and a truly superb Word Of Mouth which got the audience off its collective backside and into party mode. On this showing, the Mechanics have definitely re-established the brand and all they need now is that new album and I’ll be an even happier bunny!
TWR would like to say a few thank you’s to the people who made all of
this possible. First of all to Joanne Greenwood at TSPM for her help and encouragement.
To Steve “Pud” Jones for help with the interviews and tickets, to
the guys in the band who took so much time out to talk to us, and finally to
Mr Graham Drabble for help beyond the call of duty!