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Sunday 1 September 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Wayne Hussey (Live Review By Paul H)

Wayne Hussey & Evi Vine, Fuel, Cardiff

There are times when you realise ten minutes into a gig that buying that ticket wasn’t a great idea. On the face of it this wasn’t one of them. An evening with The Mission frontman Wayne Hussey (4), The Salad Daze tour, in one of my favourite venues should have been fantastic. But it wasn’t and it ended up being curtailed quite severely.

Fuel is a great little venue, but the word is little. A sold-out audience strained to get a sight of Hussey, pushing forward and cramming the front part of the venue to quite uncomfortable proportions. Not helped by a row of chairs at the front, whether for the infirm or the fan club meet and greet fanatics I’m not sure, but it didn’t ease the heat or the crush. Of course, Fuel’s poorly located toilets meant that being wedged in the corner was akin to being a human spinning top as the rotund Fuel virgins attempted to squeeze past to empty the bladder. And then stop on the way back because, “Hey, I can see Hussey from this angle, maybe I’ll just stay here”.

Maybe it was my own fault. I’d expected some humour, some anecdotes and stories or even a little light-hearted banter from Hussey. Instead, the first hour was a dull mix of songs including a few covers delivered on keyboards which were distorted and with his voice low in the mix. There was little interaction apart from some verbal abuse to someone talking between songs, and constant swigging from his ¾ finished bottle of red wine. Hussey displayed no charm, warmth or engagement with the fans, and with the use of loops and backing tracks to complement his mediocre guitar playing, it soon became dull to watch. The final straw was after an hour when he launched into a cover of All Along The Watchtower, the Bob Dylan song made famous by Jimi Hendrix. As Mrs H commented, “if I wanted to watch someone doing Hendrix covers, there are a million pubs in South Wales I could be in right now”. Fighting our way to the exit, there were a lot of disappointed faces at the rear of the main room, straining for sight and sound of a man who was charging £22 a ticket.

Support was provided by long time Hussey and The Mission associate Evi Vine (7) whose 30-minute slot was bewitching. Softly spoken, Vine was supported by band member Steve Hill on guitar and effects and played tracks from her most recent release Black/Light/White/Dark. Delicate and melancholic, Vine plays a gentle guitar whilst her ethereal voice is magical. Ironically given Hussey’s later outburst, several punters decided that they would talk all the way through her set. She is certainly worth checking out. I understand that she joined Hussey later in the evening for some of The Mission classics. I hope that the evening improved for those that remained. The Mission remain a band who I love dearly. But maybe the whole really is better than the sum of its parts?

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