sat 02/07/2022

The Mission, Chalk, Brighton review - the hits, delivered straight, to an enthused crowd | reviews, news & interviews

The Mission, Chalk, Brighton review - the hits, delivered straight, to an enthused crowd

The Mission, Chalk, Brighton review - the hits, delivered straight, to an enthused crowd

Goth-rock perennials rev up for a year that will see them tour the globe

Simon Hinkler, Wayne Hussey, Craig Adams, and someone who isn't The Mission's current drummer Alex Baum

“Play something we can dance to,” heckles a fan. “Fuck off, we are not a dance band,” fires back Wayne Hussey, leader of The Mission. He’s right. They’re not. But still there is dancing.

One especially notable aspect of this gig is the total and vocal devotion of The Mission’s fans. Not only do they sing along loudly, en masse, to most songs, but they have their own football-style chants, sometimes making reference to Mission arcana beyond this writer’s knowledge. The band play the gig straight and sturdy, without banter, but the crowd lifts it.

In terms of show, then, there are no bells’n’whistles. Behind the quartet, the backdrop is The Mission’s Celtic cross logo, white on black, and they spend most of the gig bathed in low-lit purple and red, with a smidgeon of smoke adding atmosphere. Hussey, shades in place, stands front and centre playing a white Silver 12-string from which he draws the characteristic glower-Byrds jangle-clang of Eighties goth. To his left is guitarist Simon Hinkler in a preacher-style wide-brim hat, and to his right bassist Craig Adams, who’s been with Hussey since their Sisters of Mercy days. They are all, of course, clad in black.

The Mission’s pomp was the second half of the Eighties – they headlined Reading in 1989! – and they are unabashed about drawing from that period, opening with “Beyond the Pale” from their almost-chart-topping Children album. At the same time, though, there’s a solid sprinkling of 21st century songs which the crowd know almost as well. Take “Within the Deepest Darkness (Fearful)” from 2016, slow and bass-throbbingly moody, akin to a super-gloomy U2, Hussey whispering the lyrics as auburn-haired girls shimmy, eyes closed in reverie.

Mention should be made of the band’s new drummer, Alex Baum, who Hussey proclaims as his son (perhaps he is – I could find no useful info on Google!), and who the crowd especially eulogise in chant. Baum is phenomenally in form, a fact Hussey acknowledges by saying, mock-grudgingly, “He’s playing better than me tonight.”

The Mission have two primary musical modes. Hussey, a superlative guitarist given to Seventies-style rock indulgence, was forged in the fires of post-punk Gothicism. Some cuts, then, have the stark drum machine pulse of Sisters of Mercy, whether the new-ish “Met-Amor-Phosis” or the catchy “Naked and Savage” from right at the beginning of their career. However, Hussey eventually found his own voice which sometimes had a more bombastic, downtempo, prog-folk aspect, perhaps most fully represented tonight by the trudging. cod-mystical plod of “Belief” (“Lay belief on me, my angel child”!). This writer could do with less of the latter.

It is hard, though, to argue with the enjoyable one-two punch of set-closers “Wasteland” and “Deliverance”, both contagious and both hits. The Mission’s fans are given to throwing their arms aloft as if offering themselves up to a higher power. There’s a lot of that during these songs. “Wasteland”, The Mission’s most totemic song, has the crowd ritually throwing confetti in the air. Then “Deliverance” storms all before it, a set highlight, its chorus continuing to be sung after the band leave the stage, feet stamping the rhythm, echoing round the 900-capacity venue for a few minutes, until they return triumphant, Hussey waving about a bottle of red wine from which he swigs.

During the encore’s second song, 1990’s rocker “Hungry as the Hunter”, Hussey dumps his guitar and cavorts about singing the lyrics with glee, then they close with 2013 single “Swan Song”. For me, this was a more-than-adequate serving of The Mission – leave ‘em wanting more and all that – but instead, closet Seventies band that they are, they come on for a second three song encore, opening with another hit, “Butterfly on the Wheel”, but not quite dragging everyone along this time, like they did before, despite closing with another biggie “Tower of Strength” (I noticed the place was starting to thin when I eventually left).

Throughout, Wayne Hussey could, perhaps, have used the mic more between songs, to give us slivers of the chatty, amusing persona he mustered for his entertaining autobiography, Salad Daze. Such quibbles aside, though, The Mission play their rock straight, with no frills, and seem to leave their devotees sated.

Below: Decent-ish crowd-shot video of The Mission playing "Severina" at the gig reviewed above

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