The Mission @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – 17 December 2013

Few bands can be said to have divided opinion more than the Mission. Either way they are credited with bringing the music of a marginalised sub-culture to the masses and mainstream radio play. Faces turn to praise, not pillory, but the achievements of 25 odd years of success and credible contribution to the annals of rock history.

Further to a phenomenal set from Fields of the Nephilim – The Mission waste no time in taking the gig by the scruff of the neck, thrusting classics ‘Black Cat Bone’, ‘Beyond The Pale’ and ‘Severina’ firmly down the throats of the gathered, who swallow it all hungrily and raise their arms to beg for more.

The Mish do not disappoint. This is a band at their most relaxed and accomplished with Wayne Hussey appearing to have let go of the petulance of the past. Maybe it’s the passage of time, maybe it’s the comfort of being among old friends, or maybe it’s the revived fortunes of his beloved Liverpool FC. Who knows? But for the first half of the set he is charming and playful, indulging in saloon bar banter with the audience. For the second half he and the rest of the band concentrate on showing why they above all others of this genre have gained mass appeal far beyond these shores.

Craig Adams, demons defeated, resumes his role as Hussey’s most loyal lieutenant and is near faultless, while Simon Hinkler’s unassuming style belies the sheer quality of his guitar work. Such is Hinkler’s mesmeric skill on ‘Swan Song’ it takes a second to realise that the set is over and the band have walked from the stage.

Once they regain their senses the Missionaries howl for the band’s return, which they do, in order to hand out another slab of iconic tracks such as ‘Blood Brother’ and ‘Deliverance’. Something is still missing, until the they return for a second time and deliver what many had been waiting for. ‘Tower Of Strength’ sweeps all before it, and at its end both band and disciples have nothing left to give.

It’s a fitting end to what Hussey had described as the “Christmas Goth Roadshow”. It maybe cold outside as we leave, but that.s OK, because we all now have the inner glow that comes from memories regained.

The Mission

Review: Noel Fischer
Photography: Steve Johnston