Monthly Archive: March 2014

Runrig @ The Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK – 28 March 14

Spring is nearly here and it’s finally warming up – so tonight to the delectable Symphony Hall and to see a band who, to be honest, I don’t know too much about. Off the back of several large open-air, events held across Europe during 2013 at venues such as Edinburgh Castle, and culminating last August at Party On The Moor, Runrig come to Birmingham to celebrate their 40th anniversary with us.

So to a quick potted history. Formed in ’73 as the Run-Rig Dance Band they mooted their wears around the clubs and societies playing Gaelic folk. This early incarnation played fundraisers for various things like the “….shoot fish sheep shearers association…” and as a trade for playing, from the local ladies backstage, came piles of sandwiches and cakes. Up ‘til ’78 is was very much a part time / student venture before they took the plunge and issued their music through their own independent label. With line-up changes it was ’87 before they gained their breakthrough ‘moment’: tours of Canada, a festival behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin and support to the newly crowned heroes of rock – U2. The same year they finally signed to a major label. ‘The Big Wheel’ charted reached number 4 in the UK Charts, ‘Amazing Things’ did even better reaching number 2 – and open air concerts such as the one at Loch Lomond beckoned; such gigs have since become annual outing of the band.  In 1997, original lead singer Donnie Munro departed for politics and was replaced with Canadian Bruce Guthro.  After successfully continuing and gaining more success across Europe and the US and Canada, they took a hiatus, before in 2013 they performed at several large open-air, anniversary events held across Europe, culminating at ‘Party on the Moor’  – tonight’s gig is inspired by this event to celebrate their 40years in the music business.

One poignant fact about Runrig.  Their song, ‘Running to the Light ‘was chosen as the wake up call on the final morning of the ill-fated Columbia Space Mission by astronaut fan, Laurel Clark. Very little survived the tragedy but amongst the wreckage, scattered across Southern America was Laurel Clark’s Runrig CD. It was recovered intact from a field in Texas, and presented to the band by Laurel’s husband and son at a memorable night in Glasgow City Chambers later the same year.

Runrig of 2014 are brothers and founding members Rory and Calum Macdonald, Malcolm Jones (34 years Runrig service), Iain Bayne (31), vocalist Brian Guthro (who joined in ’97) and Brian Hurren on keyboards who came to play and stayed in 2001.

Tonight’s gig at Symphony Hall is pretty much sold out. The instrument covered stage is being covered by a carpet of dry ice . We are promised that tonight’s set is in two halves – an hour then 20 minute break and then around an hour an a half. Runrig are due on stage at 7.45pm. The crowd is a real mix tonight; including some little people have been brought along by parents. As the lights go down, people cheer. An old fashioned radio appears on the screen, broadcasting the shipping forecast; then differing tracks and the clapping starts as people recognise the tunes and melodies being issued.  Runrig take to stage and bow to a huge cheer – people clapping in time to musical intro. The band haven’t even haven’t even started yet and they are getting a huge response!

Jones starts up the tune on his guitar and first track ‘Road Trip’; folk with a guitar twist as the lyrics float across the screen to the chorus. ‘Everything you need, is everything you see.’

Guthro wishes us hello and asks if we’re up for a good night tonight. The answer is already yes – the audience are here to enjoy and party – as we’re taken into  ‘City of Lights.’  Guthro is chatty and funny as he explains it’s Runrig’s 40th anniversary and that he doesn’t reckon there’s any one here from ’73 – they’ll be way too long in the tooth… (although a few cheers do indeed go up). ‘Big Sky’ is more whimsical as it starts before rising into a Pink Floyd inspired prog-rock Gaelic epic that rolls on for at least 10 minutes – while ‘Maymorning’ is rock meets ‘Tubular Bells’ with folk vibes. And as the drumbeat rises the audience are on their feet and clapping away.

Guthro: “So here we are in Birmingham on Saturday night. You’re famous for Black Sabbath….Duran Duran…..not because of your football team! You are a Birmingham Runrig whiskey drinking crowd…” We cheer and sing along as the band go into ‘The Locomotion’. “Enjoying your spring weather – feels like the beginning of summer to me…” (Guthro is from Nova Scotia, Canada) “…30 cm of show on east coast – thank god I brought the wife a shovel before I left…” before we’re back into the rock Gaelic vibes with ‘Dance Called America.’

‘Siol Ghoraidh’ is a flag-bearing Gaelic anthem, with a core rhythm that beats out. ‘The Engine Room’ sees guitarist Jones playing what appears to be electronic bag-pipes ( a stick like instrument with no bag!) before drums and percussion come in: Runrig take traditional folk and crank up the volume.

“So 40 years – happy birthday to us!” A comment that the founding brothers only look 35 – “Memories are good ones – the songs are for you…” as ‘Book of Golden Stories’ features historic pictures, tickets and reviews from their career on the screen behind the band. Before the last song of their first set, clearly something they’re not used to, this split set –  “…. Two sets and a break …. no idea what we’ll do back stage, maybe hook up to oxygen masks or adjust makeup…” before they embark on ‘Every River’ and the crowd sing back, the band quiet so they can hear us – with a kinda U2 ‘With or Without you’ vibe.

What a great first set, we’re buzzing as we pop out for a quick beverage.

And so for Set 2, onto a darkened stage, Guthro appears with acoustic guitar to play us ‘In Search of Angels’ before being joined partway through by guitarist brother MacDonald and Hurren on keyboards.

MacDonald explains, tongue in cheek, that the first half took so much out of them they’re going to sit for the second set – as 5 of the 6 piece take to their seats, percussionist MacDonald and drummer Bayne sitting on boxes, which become beat boxes as Runrig take us into the Gaelic ‘Tir a Mhurain’ ; the other members joining in on zither, accordion and acoustic guitar. Guthro rejoins his band’s little Kayleigh quipping about the Scottish referendum “… whole border lined up with tanks – guys with face half painted in blue…” and him being Canadian will play the U.N (United Nations) role. Rungrig are apparently, one big happy family, sound guy is from Denmark, the light man is English (as said light man promptly switches all the lights off!)

‘Dust’ is a traditional Gaelic jog, followed by the rhythm section of the band gain individual drums of varying sizes and line-up at the front to beat their hearts out. A drum solo (quartet) with a difference – Runrig drummer Bayne get’s a swig of beer, personally brought onto the stage courtesy of Guthro, during the middle of this drumming escapade, as they continue to drum out with rhythms of varying beats and power.

And then to another historic video. “In the beginning… 1973…” and we’re on their journey once again, before “2001- “. The band are back in their places we’re back to the full on Gaelic rock with ‘Rocket to the Moon’ – before the haunting romp that is ‘Alba.’‘Pride of the Summer’ gives us full Gaelic pride – quite literally; ‘ Skye’ with Big Country vibes, lilts out into a prog-rock epic – guitarist Jones goes from Floyd before cranking it up – I almost feel I’m at a Who gig. ‘Going Home’ is the culmination for the second set; a ballad crossed between country and folk.

But it’s not over – encore now as Guthro, solo, takes us into ‘Hearts of Olden Glory’ his powerful Canadian voice ranging through the auditorium.  The words are on the screen and he encourages us to sing. Quite beautiful as the Hall carries our 3,000 voices, as Guthro sings over our words to accompany us – one of those moments when the hackles go up on the back of your neck…

‘On the Edge’ takes us back to Gaelic prog-rock as we go all Pink Floyd and The Who, before a-stomping country, folk mix that is ‘Clash of The Ash’ – as we dance and sing to the words on the screen ‘ Come On…Allright…” (two ‘L’s I know!)

‘Loch Lomond’ Runrig style, their charity single from 2007 for Children In Need – the drumbeat dictates we should clap – so we all do. Clap clap. Clap. Clap clap. Clap. This version is beefed up and powerful – wave your arms in the air and sway them from side to side before back to … Clap. Clap clap. Before the audience sing ‘solo’. I’ve never seen so much Scottish patriotism in Birmingham….

‘And We’ll Sing’ is a new track and completes the set; the band members at the front of the stage akin with drums and accordions and acoustic guitars – right back to Runrig’s basics…

Wow. I’d heard of Runrig but they hadn’t quite ever hit my musical radar. And so an opportunity to see them was indeed something to take opportunity of. But even in the early part of the first set I wondered, how the hell did I miss these guys? Did they appear over the years in a different universe? Because Runrig are talented. Runrig live – I have to say, are pretty epic. Heavy, prog rock, pure folk and more and yet beautifully gaelic and clearly over the past 40 years have taken a truly alternative musical journey. A total of two and a half hour set – we danced, we clapped, we sang our little hearts out. And we left with huge grins on our faces.

If you get they opportunity – Runrig are not to be missed. Tonight;s 2 and a half hour epic was just £27.50 a ticket. If you get a chance – go literally party with Runrig.  Their ‘Party on The Moor’ gig was defined as one of the best Runrig gigs ever. Thank you for bringing it to Birmingham tonight. What an epic blast.

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First Set:
Road Trip
City of Lights
Big Sky
Maymorning
Dance Called America
Siol Ghoraidh
The Engine Room
Book of Golden Stories
Every River

Second Set:
In Search of Angels
Tir a Mhurain
Dust
An Sabhal Aig Neill
Drums
Rocket to the Moon
Alba
Pride of the Summer
Skye
Going Home

Encore:
Hearts of Olden Glory
On the Edge
Clash of the Ash
Loch Lomond
And We’ll Sing

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

The Stranglers + Nine Below Zero @ 02 Academy, Birmingham – 22 March 2014

My calendar was set for date 12 months ago even before the dates were announced. Like clockwork this is a annual night out that’s almost set in stone. And this time it’s a tad special. With a glint of ruby, this band are celebrating 40 years in the business. There can be few as resilient and as enduring, with a back catalogue to die for, than what these icons of the alternative possess. With a true stubbornness to call it quits, we’re here to see one of the UK’s most enduring bands – The Stranglers.

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The fans tonight are keen and up for a party, quite rightly, as we wait for the support to come on. Nine Below Zero are an English blues band formed in ‘77. Dennis Greaves, Brendan O’Neil, Mark Feltham (also a member of Rory Gallagher’s band) and Brian Bethel (part of the Blow Monkeys) were a popular alternative to the mainstream in the early 80s. And since, they’ve achieved cult like status across Europe since. “Oy stop your nagging will ya!” as they go into a rimp-romping blues riff by the same name. With cover a cover from the legend that is Wilko Johnson, NBZ give us total rhythm and blues with harmonica in tow. ‘Three times is enough’ takes us back to ska / early Madness – NBZ are great fun and hugely slick. “We’ve only been in the business 35 years! Mark’s mom asked him if we were on the tour with the Strangles! If they’re the Strangles, we’re Nine Below Under…” A cover of Canned Heat’s ‘On the Road Again’ get’s us boogying, before “Let’s have a go at one we did as kids…” as they go into ’11 + 11.’ They tell us they’ll be back in Brum later in the year – check them out – they’re well worth a punt as they finish their set with a harmonica-blues, hornpipe-like, rip-roaring edition of ‘Riding on the N+L.’

Academy is packed tonight; the lads still pull in a large crowd and we’re here to party. While we wait in good spirits, the partisan Brum crowd sing along to ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’…

Formed in ’74 by founding members Jean Jaques (J.J.) Burnel, Jet Black and Hugh Cornwell, Dave Greenfield joined them within a year. A series of successful punk hits, then embracing a more commercial yet unique sound during the eighties, The Stranglers became a regular not only in the charts, but on the touring scene. Cornwell left in ‘90, they uncompromisingly replaced him with Paul Roberts. Then 14 years ago, Roberts left and still not in a mind for calling it a day, The Stranglers duly replaced him with vocalist and guitarist Baz Warne, who fits in so well, that you‘d think he’d been here for the full forty years. The incredible Jet Black, is still here, still drumming away at 75, but now sharing the role with touring drummer and ‘youngster’ Jim Macauly. On stage there be two drum kits, side by side.

The lights go down and we get THE classic Stranglers intro ‘Waltzinblack’ which morphs into chains clunking and doors slamming shut. To a huge cheer from the crowd, the original Men in Black set off as they mean to go on with ‘London Lady’; J.J. taking vocal duties, before THAT bass riff and we’re into ‘No More Heroes.’ Already we’re all singing our hearts out; song completes to a huge cheer. As the reddened set fades to blue it’s ‘Coup de Grace…’ which fades into the in your face ‘Was It You?’ – J.J. back on vocals.

Warne: “Good evening Birmingham how the f*** are you? Thank you for coming to our fortieth – we’ll just keep on going shall we?” Yet another big cheer – a hallmark of the evening. ‘Threatened’ is just part of a set that covers every genre they’ve ever dabbled in – from the sublime to in your face punk – as J.J. gives it his all on ‘Somat Outanowt.’ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, J.J. is one of the best bass players you’ll ever see – the rhythm section of the band in such synch, it seems effortless. ‘Still Life’ maybe the more beautiful side,  before another another classic J.J.bass riff and they’re walking on the beaches, looking at the ‘Peaches’ to yet another huge cheer.

Warne has acoustic guitar now as they deliver ‘Midnight Summer Dream’. The crowd chant in unison “Jet Black, Jet Black, Jet Black….” and he is indeed here to take his place, before they deliver The Stranglers at their most beautiful ‘Golden Brown.’ We love it – cheers for Warne as he takes to the front on the stage and we sing. We cheer. Again. Pure class.

The broad grins from the band tell you exactly why, after 40 years, they’re still doing this.

It may be a bitterly cold near spring night outside but in here it’s ‘Always the Sun’ and we sing the chorus loudly. The chanting goes up again…. “Jet Black, Jet Black, Jet Black….”as the band roll into ‘Genetix.’ Warne introduces Black as he takes his leave  and Brum boy and touring drummer Macauly takes his place. Warne: “And for people of a certain age – that be all us really – it’s physical time…” And as the beat goes on Warne and J.J. stomp across the stage, linking arms to pirouette before they’re into ‘Thrown Away.’ The band are so tight, Warne so fully synched into the band live that you would never think they’d been others in his place.

The punky ‘Nuclear Device’ leads to another classic – ‘Skin Deep’ – which we bop along and sing along before the customary huge cheer. Birds squawk – we’re now in…. bang! to ‘Valley of the Birds.’  And from drums, to beat, guitar, then bass – giddy-up it’s ‘Nice n’ Sleazy.’

Warne: “Dya mind if we have a break – we’ve just done 10 songs without a break…” We know how you feel, we’re standing, dancing, some seated and we feel kinda guilty;  if the band can deliver like this after forty years we’re not going to complain about any aches and pains we may have. “… and we’re getting old! What’s that?” Warne asks a audience member – to a confused response “You’ve had one too many sandwiches my friend…”

Then into ‘Walk On By’ the band jam away, effortlessly in perfect musical harmony, making it look so easy. On and on and on and on.… A moment to chill, as the waves wash over us and then crank up into ‘Freedom is Insane.’ Catch your breath, here we go for the crescendo; ‘Duchess’ which we complete with “God forbid!”, then ‘Five Minutes’ and the the main set completed with ‘Hanging Around.’

Wow. After a frenetic 1 hour 45 we all, let alone the band, finally get a break. The encore doesn’t let up the pace at all. Warne: “You lucky devils – you enjoying yourselves?” As we power into ‘Norfolk Coast’, followed by ‘Something Better Change’, we chant back, before a drum solo and J.J. shouts the line to bring it to a full stop. Final song gets us singing again- ‘All Day and All of the Night’. We’re loving it. As the band depart: but it’s not over, they’re not done yet. Quick break and it’s ‘Tank’ complete with a shirtless (and still very fit) J.J. plus a stage invader.

Warne completes the night with a huge grin and “Thank you very much. Goodnight.”

Wow. Probably the best I’ve seen them and that’s saying something, The Stranglers are always standout. Over a two hour set – The Stranglers remain one hell of a class act, slick and professional yet still remain uncompromising, at times beautiful whilst at other moments in your face.  And they still clearly love what they do. After all these years. They played 31 songs and I can still count a long list of the tracks they didn’t play.  This is part of a 22 date UK tour – Bristol and Manchester are, quite rightly,  sold out. Then 15 dates in Europe and they’re back over the summer for festivals – including V in August. Go check them out – you won’t be disappointed Their annual Birmingham date is in my diary already for next year for when the Men in Black return…

Tonight, at times, my thoughts went to a friend; a long term Stranglers fan.  He was diagnosed with the big C and over the past few years, no matter how difficult, he’d made the annual trip to see them – and loved every single minute. But he didn’t make this 40 th gig. A life cut short way too early. I believe he was here in spirit, with a grin as broad as each band member as The Stranglers delivered their classics in all their glory tonight.

So to finish this review with words from J.J. Burnel himself:

“On this, the occasion of our Ruby Anniversary, I would like to take this opportunity to stick my fingers up to everyone who wrote us off and dismissed us. However I would like to thank those who saw beyond the words of the critics and drew their own conclusions. He who laughs last, laughs longest AND loudest. This year we will make a lot of noise with our friends…”

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Setlist:
Intro – Waltzinblack
London Lady
No More Heroes
Coup de Grace
Was It You?
Threatened
Somat Outanowt
Peasant in the Big Shitty
Still Life
Peaches
Midnight Summer Dream
Golden Brown
Always the Sun
Genetix
Thrown Away
Never Look Back
Nuclear Device
Skin Deep
Time to Die
Lowlands
Valley of the Birds
Nice n Sleazy
Walk On By
Freedom is Insane
Duchess
Five Minutes
Hanging Around

Encore I:
Norfolk Coast
Something Better Change
All Day and All of the Night

Encore II:
Tank

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

Mike and The Mechanics + Sadie and the Hotheads @ The Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK, 1st March 2014

The Symphony Hall and surrounding area is a very busy place tonight. Ant and Dec (not in person) are filming a fling thing in Centenary Square, while there’s a posh black tie do on in one of the halls. But we’re here in the lovely Symphony Hall auditorium to see Mike Rutherford’s ‘side project’ Mike and the Mechanics.

This little off shoot of his hasn’t done too badly. Releasing 7 albums and selling more than 10 million records, they be here tonight celebrating 25 years since the release of ‘Living Years.‘  Rutherford’s other band didn’t do too bad either, notching up over 130 million record sales, making Genesis one of the biggest selling bands ever…

That doesn’t mean to say, it’s been easy. The sudden death of one of the original singers, Paul Young, left Paul Carrack as the only vocalist in a band that featured two lead vocalists. So after quite a hiatus, Rutherford had a swap-around and setup a second incarnation recruiting two new singers. So to confirm these days, Mike and The Mechanics are: Mike Rutherford (Genesis), Andrew Roachford (solo performer, known in his own right, for ‘Cuddly Toy’), Tim Howar (musical stage performer who’s recently appeared in the West End rock musical ‘Rock of Ages’), Anthony Drennan (guitarist with The Corrs, Genesis, Clannad and many more), keyboardist Luke Juby (Leona Lewis, Delta Goodrem, Olly Murs and as part of the band for both XFactor and Britain’s Got Talent) and drummer Gary Wallis (Nik Kershaw, 10CC, Il Divo, Westlife and longest serving member of Mike and The Mechanics with 21 years by Rutherford’s side).

You could say that tonight’s audience is tad older and more refined I guess. Before the gig we’re chatting to some lovely people from Tamworth and Bristol who tell us Mike and The Mechanics are really good – having seen them many times. So we have a positive prognosis for tonight then.

First up Sadie and the Hotheads. Conceived in 2007 when Elizabeth McGovern took guitar lessons from Steve Nelson. He encouraged her to begin to write her own songs and they put together a band of musicians to support the project. Just to clarify, Elizabeth McGovern is better known as an actress, notably as Cora, Countess of Grantham, of Downtown Abbey fame. There a band of seven on stage, McGovern dressed in sparkly silver top and tiny black skirt. The band are an eclectic mix blues meets country with traditional folk mix coming from a left-field stance. She tell’s us she happy to be here tonight and are indeed going down well with the audience. “This track may be familiar…” and as McGovern dances a bit like a zombie; it’s an alternative folky, slowed down version of The BeeGees ‘Staying Alive.’ It’s a bizarre yet surprisingly good take on the track.

She works with a charity called World Vision*, for which she sponsors a child called Justina in Sierra Leone, and she’s keen to promote what they do and the band are indeed at merchandising stand with the charity after their set. Sadie and the Hotheads are interesting, featuring harmonised vocals in an alternative folk way. Check them out, when McGovern and co. next pass by.

And so in the interval we get a bit of Hall and Oats (they’ll be playing here later in the year), ‘Cry Wolf’ by A-Ha and a smattering of The Clash – ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go.…’

And just around 8.30pm, the lights go down, intro music starts and on they come, big cheers and wave to Rutherford. “Hello Birmingham…”

First track ‘A Beggar on a Beach of Gold’ gives us Roachford on keyboards and taking the vocal lead Howar, who has a surprisingly powerful voice and already he’s clearly having a blast fronting the band, there’s a cheeky impish quality about him.  Howar: “Thank you. Anyone for a cup of coffee?” and we indeed go into ‘Another Cup of Coffee’, this time with Roachford on vocal duties.

The band are clearly already enjoying themselves, Howar sings and grins from ear-to-ear, with cheekily infectious enthusiasm in his delivery; Roachford plays keyboards with huge style and accomplishment and his vocals too soulfully soar.  This is already a gig that makes you smile. For ‘Get Up’, there’s is a great camaraderie between the singers and band; the singers just having fun, with one another taking vocal lead from one another and harmoniously dueling.

Rutherford: “Birmingham, it’s Saturday and it’s great to be here…”  There’s cheeky banter between the band as Rutherford implies they’ll deliver their entire back-catalogue tonight…‘Try to Save Me’ was written with Roachford who vocally delivers, before Howar takes duties with the lyrically challenging ‘Seeing is Believing.’ As Rutherford introduces the band, Howar is introduced as delivering ‘vocals and visual interpretation’, which we get – while Roachford delivers in great style, Howar not only brings his powerful voice, but the over emphasised display, akin to musical stage performances. ‘Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)’ is delivered with a great rendition by Roachford taking the lead.

And then to a Roachford track ‘This Generation’ given in all it’s energetic glory, a total clap along – and as the band stop and we continue to clap; Roachford: “Who needs a band? We’ve got the best clappers in the world here….”

Big cheers as crowd recognise the next track, this time a Genesis classic: ‘Turn It On Again.’ Wow! Our jaws drop as Howar, who has a tenor-like voice so far, turns vocal chameleon and sounds uncannily like Collins. He hits the mark and then some. It’s unlikely you’ll ever see Genesis do this (Collins officially retired a few years ago, although is threatening to re-appear, Banks recently killed off any suggestions of reformation) and so it is a pure treat in all its glory.

So to a plug on Mike and The Mechanics retro stuff that’s just been released (quite a list, to which a band member retorts they’ll probably be a pizza too), before new track off said singles collection, ‘When My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground’ – delivered by Roachford. We’d already been told keyboard player Juby is a talented multi-instrumentalist (as well as providing backing vocal duties) as he has indeed taken up bass guitar and by the following song, ‘Everybody Gets a Second Chance’, clearly still bored with keyboards – he’s on sax .

And as the tracks flow, the two singers, swap and intermix, a vocal joust, before we’re given the Roachford classic ‘Cuddly Toy’ which features not just 5 (times) but 21, as the band go dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada – every band member bang on time, an expert musical delivery.

And now to another Genesis classic – once again with Howar taking on Collins, as we get ‘I Can’t Dance’ and Howar, Rutherford and Drennan start to do the classic band walk (check out the original video) across the stage. Roachford takes us on the vocal journey for the tour titled ‘The Living Years’, an anthemic prayer and audience arms start to sway from side to side. We’re in full on party mood now, as they deliver ‘All I Need is a Miracle’, Howar giving it his full vocal range… ”sing-a-long-a-Birmingham – cos this is the home of Led Zeppelin” as he get’s us to repeat “all what, all I need, give it to me baby.”

Quick break for an encore, and ‘Over My Shoulder’ is all acoustic guitars, whilst Howar brings the mike stand to the front of stage to give whistle duties to the bass, sax playing keyboardist Juby. Ridiculously talented bunch this lot are and by god it shows.  But there’s no ego’s on stage tonight – these guys are clearly having great fun, a total blast, and it’s totally infectious too – we are very much at their party. Final track ‘Word of Mouth’, starts with a drum solo – we’re all now in full on party mode in the glorious hall, as Howar gives us semaphore arm gestures to copy far to more than just swaying side to side. Howar: ‘I love you…you guys can sing…’ As this cheeky imp introduces the band for a second time, guitarist Drennan gives us a solo, with amongst other the theme to the Birmingham-based soap ‘Crossroads,’ Roachford gives us a bit of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ on his keyboards, Rutherford receives a huge cheer and delivers us Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’.

Set over, they’ve had a blast, we’re in party mood and in a line the band members bow, clearly on a high from their reception tonight. Rutherford maybe one of the biggest selling artists ever, but as he departs the stage last, he bows down in acknowledgment to the crowd. Respect.

Mike and The Mechanics, a bit like Genesis, weren’t exactly my cup of tea. But their music, permeated the airwaves, and it’s surprising just how many tracks you know. Rutherford has amassed a hugely talented group for his new Mechanics, the expectation of quality was there; but the truly amazing level of talent, musically and vocally in the cascading soul range of Roachford and powerful soaring vocal ability of Howar, took this gig to another level. Wow! is the word tonight, and we leave with big grins and are totally blown away. For around £30 in the best live venues in town, it was a total treat. If you get the opportunity to see them, grab it with both hands, no miracle needed.

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World Vision (every child free from fear) is the world’s largest international children’s charity, working to bring real hope to millions of children in the world’s hardest places.  Their local staff work in thousands of communities across the world to free children from fear. They live and work alongside them, their families and communities to help change the world they live in for good.

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Mike and The Mechanics setlist:
A Beggar on a Beach of Gold
Another Cup of Coffee
Get Up
Try to Save Me
Seeing is Believing
Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)
Don’t
This Generation (Roachford)
Turn It On Again (Genesis)
When My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground (New)
Everybody Gets a Second Chance
Nobody’s Perfect
Cuddly Toy (Roachford)
I Can’t Dance (Genesis)
The Living Years
All I Need is a Miracle

Encore:
Over My Shoulder
Word of Mouth

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.