The Mission were formed in the mid-80s, after the first split within the ranks of the Sisters Of Mercy, when guitarist Wayne Hussey and bassist Craig Adams found themselves out of the band. After adding guitarist Simon Hinkler and drummer Mick Brown, a new group was born with Hussey as lead singer and main songwriter. Their debut album, titled “God’s Own Medicine“, was released in 1986 and quickly established the band as one of the leading representatives of gothic rock.
37 years and 11 albums later, after countless personnel changes and several pandemic-related postponements (originally the concert was scheduled for April 2020), the band’s almost original line-up (this time around with Canada’s very own Alex Baum behind the drums) came to our country for the third time (that is if I’m not mistaken).
For me, it was an event of special significance as I have been following the band from the very beginning and I am one of those who have been captivated by their music since the first album. As it turned out at the entrance door, I’m not the only one. A long queue of people dressed in black (though sans gothic attributes such as flowing robes, lots of jingly jewelry and distinctive hairstyles), sporting Clan Of Xymox, The Cure, Fields Of The Nephilim/The Nephilim, Sisters Of Mercy and, of course, The Mission tees, proved that the band have a large group of loyal fans in this neck of the woods.
It was my first encounter with the band live, so the opening notes of the guitar introduction to “Beyond the Pale” (the opening track on the 1988 album “Children“) brought a tear to my eye. All those riffs played by Wayne Hussey on his 12-string electric, which are a trademark and an inseparable element of the band’s style, have always had a great effect on me. This particular song is one of the strongest in their entire catalogue and, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest openers in rock music history. On the other hand, it is a number so good that it’s a pity it gets thrown to the wolves at the very beginning of the show. Right. A tear has been shed, time to move on.
The next two songs, also from the early period in the band’s history, were “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “The Grip of Disease“. The band certainly kept us in the goth mood, much to the fans’ liking, although it must be said that the Polish audience, famous for its enthusiasm at live gigs, had not yet fully got rolling. The same cannot be said about yours truly. I was having so much fun that I fell out of my role as a critic and simply cannot remember what song they played at that point. However, I remember the fifth one perfectly well, and I shall never forget this rendition. It was the immortal “Severina” (again, those intros on the 12-string electric guitar!). The vocal part, originally sung by Julianne Regan of All About Eve fame, was performed on the guitar by Simon Hinkler, to a different but great effect. From then on, the band was thoroughly warmed up, and the fans were adequately enthusiastic, thanks to which the slightly less darker “Like A Child Again” and “Stay With Me” were received in a somewhat festival-like fashion, but in the good and gothic sense of the word. Darkness was brought back with the intro loop to “Met-Amor-Phosis” from the band’s latest full-length effort so far, i.e. “Another Fall From Grace“. It is one the best songs in The Mission‘s entire catalogue – a statement attested to by the audience’s enthusiastic reaction. Then, things got even better and “gother” 😉
By this point, both the band and the audience were going at full speed. The fans immediately recognized the intro to “Butterfly On A Wheel” and the smartphones went off the way cigarette lighters would have in the analogue days. During “Wasteland“, absolutely no-one stood still anymore. In its live arrangement, this number has an elongated, calm middle section that only whets the appetite for some rocking out, so once they’d finished a great rendition of this energetic song, they raised the roof with something even harder – the highly anticipated “Deliverance” (have I mentioned how much I love those 12-string intros? :)), which was sung by Wayne backed the entire crowd.
After such a knock-out, the band left the stage, although it was clear the show could not end just then. Having come back on, they served “Dance On Glass” and “Belief“, which left the crowd in ecstasy. Two middle-aged gents stood next to me. I could see it in their eyes that in the old days (before their hair went, that is), they were no strangers to gothic gear and hairstyle. Throughout the entire show, they exchanged nudges and winks expressing approval for a given song. When the time came for “Belief“, I could see boundless joy in their eyes under those slightly steamy glasses. I got carried away too, so I can’t really remember what the band played right after that. Next, Wayne was left onstage alone to sing and play “Love Me To Death” on the guitar and I must say such a stripped arrangement of this song has its undeniable charm. The whole band returned to do “Tower of Strength“, which was enthusiastically received by the fans, only to leave the frontman in the company of feedback and reverb for a rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (ah, Wayne’s love for LFC), and two hours had gone by like two minutes.
I simply cannot say how many drummers The Mission had before Alex Baum. What I can say is that he does his job of laying solid grooves sparingly adorned with fills in an exemplary manner. Sophistication in simplicity. Since you’re reading this on a drum website, I’ll mention Alex’s great sounding Natal drum kit (the 14″x7″ hammered brass snare in particular) and his Amedia cymbals, both of which served the band’s sound perfectly. More details to come in the forthcoming drum kit tour video.
The Mission know how to warm up an audience and they CAN do it. Simple as that. I say this without adding words like “still” or phrases such as “for men their age”. These guys just have the energy and power to rock out, and they do so. Period. Those who haven’t experienced them on this tour have missed out on a lot. Grab the tickets for the remaining shows (if they’re not already sold out) as you can’t be sure just when they’re going to tour Europe again.
In Warsaw, The Mission were supported by Baśnia, i.e. Barbara Lipińska and her band. They gave a great, atmospheric and warmly received performance. Their music uses a great deal of reverb, echo and various types of other effects and offers very interesting vocal lines. Classic 4AD fans will be delighted. I know I was.