Variety shows, panto and the odd Floyd tribute act are the usual fare at Carlisle’s plush Sands Centre, which even tonight seems to be doing better trade in ice cream than at the bar. Still, raucous applause greets Mike Rutherford and his current Mechanics as they take their places amongst brightly coloured flight cases on the cluttered stage. The band immediately throw a curveball with Are You Ready, one of many new tracks aired from the forthcoming Let Me Fly album, and one that showcases lively singer Tim Howar, although it’s curious that the upbeat opener has both Rutherford and Anthony Drennan on guitars and no one on bass, even though both trade four and six strings for the rest of the evening.
The band have a half a dozen well-known chart hits under their belts, and the jazzy Another Cup Of Coffee is the first of these, featuring the soulful voice of the superb Andrew Roachford, who also plays a mean piano alongside Luke Juby. While Rutherford probably considers himself more of a guitarist than bassist these days, it’s Drennan’s tasteful solo on the funky Get Up that’s the guitar highlight tonight, but Rutherford is no slouch either, dishing out bluesy solos on Silent Running. With Roachford and Hower it’s obvious the Paul Carrack/Paul Young hits are in good hands, but so is the future: Roachford’s new ballad Save The World is a stunner and the more uptempo The Best Is Yet To Come brings Hower back to the fore. Perhaps cautious of playing too many new songs, the crowd sing loudly at Hower’s behest on Genesis’ Land Of Confusion, given extra impetus by powerhouse drummer Gary Wallis.
With the night already won, the band take chances with a short acoustic set of new songs, before the gentle piano of Let Me Fly leads into a hits finale, including Genesis’ most Marmite moment, I Can’t Dance. Hower dedicates A Beggar On A Beach Of Gold to Young, while Juby takes over bass and whistling for Over My Shoulder and the set ends with All I Need Is A Miracle. If that isn’t enough, the band return for a stunning rendition of The Living Years, and end on Word Of Mouth with the whole band getting solo spots. On this evidence, they have plenty more to give.