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Genesis' Mike Rutherford tunes up his Mechanics again

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Mike Rutherford has no illusion that his Mike + the Mechanics will ever be as big as Genesis, the band that made him famous.

But with Genesis on ice, perhaps forever, Rutherford has no problem ratcheting up again with the Mechanics, which he formed 30 years ago but never had the opportunity to truly devote himself towards over the years.

"The Mechanics songs haven't been played very much on stage, ever," acknowledges Rutherford, 64, who's brought the group to North America for the first time since 1989 -- including a show Saturday, March 14, at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. "My problem was with Genesis, a (Mechanics) tour schedule never really fitted in very much, so it never really got going as a band live, which I think is a shame. You can't cut corners; it takes time before you become a real band sort of thing, and it feels that way now.

"So I thought, 'Let's try and go to America.' We'll take a month's tour and we'll see how it goes. I don't know what will happen, but it's fun to try."

The Mechanics have had their moments, of course. The group came out of the box strong with the hits "Silent Running" and "All I Need is a Miracle" from its 1985 debut album, while the title track from the 1988 album "Living Years" topped the Billboard Hot 100. (The album was reissued this year in an expanded edition.) Rutherford brought the group back to life in earnest during 2010 -- with new singers Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar replacing the original tandem of Paul Carrack and Paul Young -- and while the focus is on Mechanics music Rutherford feels a bit looser about tossing "a couple" of Genesis songs into the mix, too.

"When I first used to tour the Mechanics I was like, 'Nope, no Genesis,' " Rutherford recalls. "But at this stage in my life, I think, 'Why ever not,' you know? But not too much. I think what we do fits right for us."

The Mechanics' return comes at a busy time all-around for Rutherford. Last year he published "The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir," which was partly inspired by some writings by his father Crawford Rutherford and became a best-seller in his native Britain. He was also involved in the Genesis documentary "Sum of the Parts," as well as the companion "R-Kive" compilation and a DVD release of the "Three Sides Live" concert film from 1982.

"I think in a funny way it actually started wtih the book," Rutherford explains, "which I sent to the rest of the band at the end of (2013), kind of saying, 'Have a look when you feel like it,' and I got a nice reaction back from everybody. I think what the book did was remind everybody what a great time we had, 'cause you kind of forget sometimes.

"So when the documentary came along, I think everybody was sort of in the mood to address it, you know, and it was a nice process hanging out a bit more together."

But Rutherford does not anticipate Genesis -- which he, singer-drummer Phil Collins and keyboardist Tony Banks last took on tour in 2007 -- will be doing much of anything in the future.

"There's nothing planned," he says. "Obviously never say never, but there's no plans at the moment. We've done an awful lot recently. But its been nice, and I do treasure the fact that we're still sort of friends. That's good."

Mike + the Mechanics and Darryl Stuermer

8 p.m. Saturday, March 14.

The Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty Road, Ann Arbor.

Tickets are $35-$75

Call 734-668-8463 or visit www.michtheater.org.

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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