Mike Rutherford: "The last Genesis show felt bizarre"

Mike Rutherford headshot
(Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Bassist and guitarist Mike Rutherford formed Mike + The Mechanics during a hiatus from Genesis in 1985. Initially a side-project, the success of hits such as The Living Years, All I Need Is A Miracle and Over My Shoulder made them a bona fide group. 

With Rutherford now on a first tour since the dissolution of Genesis last year, he explains why a side-order of songs by his former band will feature in the Mechanics' set-list.


You're on a 34-date UK tour, something that not too many bands do anymore

I’m not quite sure why it’s that many. I said to my manager: ‘Let’s do a few shows’ and this is what he came back with. 

In a practical sense, what’s the reason behind playing so many shows instead of maybe a handful of bigger ones? 

I’d do arenas with the Mechanics if I could, but we wouldn’t sell enough tickets. I do like British theatres and it makes a difference to what we do with Genesis. After that last tour of arenas, which have their own drawbacks, it feels like doing the right thing. 

For this tour Nic Collins, the son of your former Genesis bandmate Phil, takes over the drum stool of Gary Wallis on a temporary basis

Gary is having a medical treatment right about now and I was worried that he wouldn’t be ready in time. He was and always will be the Mechanics’ drummer but after playing with Nic for the last couple of years, it seemed like an obvious thing to ask him. 

Is it just like playing with his dad? 

Yeah. Quite a lot of my enjoyment from that last Genesis tour came from playing with Nic. No disrespect to Chester [Thompson, the band’s additional drummer] who we have worked with for years [until 2007] but he’s Chester – he drums like Chester. Bringing in Nic was a nice change. He brings some of the things that Phil had in the first place. He understands how his dad did stuff. 

The excellent Andrew Roachford is there on vocals, along with Tim Howar.

They’re such a versatile pair of singers. Exactly, it’s great. Roach has real soul and Tim fills that role as the rock singer. We have a lot of fun with the Mechanics and over last ten or twenty years, Roach has really helped me to relax onstage. He’s so comfortable there it rubs off on the rest of us.

Are you working on a follow-up to Out Of The Blue, which is now almost four years old? There’s nothing actually going on at the moment, though you’re right – it’s been a while. Covid came along, followed by the Genesis tour. I’ll be moving on a new album soon. Making records is something that I still enjoy. 

You’ve pretty much kept Mechanics and Genesis as separate entities. This time you are adding what the press release calls “a drop” of the band that broke up in March 2022

I’ve always done a couple of Genesis songs but now there will be a few more. I want to play some of the songs that weren’t heard on that last tour. One that Ireally wanted to play during that run was Jesus He Knows Me. We rehearsed it and it sounded great, but we just couldn’t get it in [to the set-list]. We’ll do that one, definitely. 

What sort of a Genesis song do you envisage including in the setlist? 

On that last tour [from Genesis], having done it before with the Mechanics, I really wanted to include an unplugged section. I had to work quite hard in persuading Tony [Banks, keyboards] and Phil [Collins] to give it a try. And of course it worked great – so there might be some more of that.

Can you give us a flavour of the day of March 26, 2022 – the last show at the O2 Arena? 

It was nice afterwards when everybody, including Peter [Gabriel] and Richard McPhail [tour manager from the seventies), was together in the dressing room. Apart from that we kept backstage closed off. But the actual show felt bizarre. I was kind of okay until I saw on my setlist that there were just four songs left. Seeing that in print made me emotional, but having got through all of the problems with Covid, it felt very good to see things through. 

The tour as a whole had its challenges, including Phil Collins’ health, but pretty much everyone who attended seemed to enjoy the privilege of saying goodbye to something that meant so much to them

I tend to forget how much the music means to people’s lives. For instance, we did a couple of shows in America in a city we hadn’t played in thirty years and sold out both nights. It proves what a lovely reach Genesis had. There was some sadness, but I thoroughly enjoyed our last tour. It’s always a joy to be onstage with Phil and Tony. 

You’re now 72 years old. What keeps you going? 

It’s the old English work ethic. But having said that, some jobs are flat-out. With this one you can do a bit less if you like.

Mike + The Mechanics are currently on tour in The UK. For dates and ticket details, visit their website.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.