The Mission, O2 Academy, Bristol
Imperious. Magical. Confident. Captivating. Four words that sum up The Mission live. The hair may be shorter or in Craig Adams case gone, the energy slightly less but replaced with a maturity that only comes to bands that are masters of their craft.
Opening act Peter Murphy (6) did a fine job of warming up the slowly filling venue. It’s been several years since the “Godfather of Goth” spent much time on British soil, with only sporadic appearances but the man forever associated with Bauhaus has never lacked confidence. An interesting 'Stripped’ set consisting of songs from his solo albums and of course a smattering of Bauhaus covers was enjoyable with his two New York City musicians particularly impressive.
Of course, there was only one band the crowd had come to see and the anticipation reached fever point as the house lights dimmed and The Dambusters March blasted out of the PA. A mixture of old school goths, metal heads, youngsters and older fans who were around when the band first toured. Kicking off with Beyond The Pale, The Mission (10) were on fire from the start, Wayne Hussey the central figure with his voice retaining both the deeper tones and the higher pitches needed. His twelve string guitar prominent, it’s only when you watch the band live that you remember how pivotal his guitar work is to the band’s sound. To his right, bassist Craig Adams weaved in and out of the action, rightly stopping the show after a stunning Serpent’s Kiss when some overzealous security staff waded into the exuberance of the mosh pit with all the grace of a herd of hippopotami. Hussey was decisive, ordering them out of the main floor unless “I tell you to go in”. The crowd reacted in fine style, self-policing the pit for the rest of the gig.
After announcing that the excellent Another Fall From Grace had become the first album to hit the top 40 since 1992, the band launched into Tyranny Of Secrets from said album. The new material fits seamlessly with the rest of the band’s catalogue, with the brilliant Met-Amor-Phosis inciting almost as many outstretched arms as the more recognisable songs. The lovely Evi Vine provided backing vocals for a number of tracks, essential for the likes of Severina which saw the audience reach new heights of ecstasy. It would be remiss of me not to mention the other two band members, guitarist Simon Hinkler maintaining the same position he did back in the 1980s, totally focused on his craft and looking majestic in shades and hat. Meanwhile the hyperactive Mike Kelly laid down the backbone on the drums and wine swigging duties.
As the set powered towards its first encore, the tracks that generate the most enthusiasm arrived. The awesome Tower Of Strength included the traditional human tower in the pit, with many younger ladies on shoulders giving the goth hands in fine style. The band provided an extended version, fusing the track with the Eastern style it has always retained. A blistering Wasteland concluded the main set, allowing time to reflect on just how good this band actually are. Two sets of encores included fan favourite Butterfly On A Wheel before the most epic version of Deliverance concluded a quite magnificent evening that left the audience buzzing.
30 years has passed in the blink of an eye. It only seems like yesterday that The Mission were a breaking band on TV shows like The Tube. This is a band who have matured during that time. Imperious. Magical. Confident. Captivating.