During the Mike + the Mechanics show at the Universal Amphitheater Wednesday night, you couldn't help feeling sorry for singers Paul Young and Paul Carrack. They're first-rate rock vocalists, capable of intense expression and excitement with the right material.
But they're not miracle workers.
The problem is that this band, headed by British bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford when he's not working in Genesis, doesn't have any songs these vocalists can sink their teeth into. They do elevate overly sentimental, skin-deep tunes like "All I Need Is a Miracle" and "The Living Years," but not to a level of excellence.
Like Genesis colleague Phil Collins, Rutherford needs a pop/commercial outlet for material that's not suitable for Genesis. With the Mechanics, he's been very successful at cranking out soppy, yuppified pop-rock. But he should aim higher than lowest-common-denominator rock--and stop wasting the talents of Young and Carrack.