Manchester Academy 2, 16.05.07
Reminiscence time. Twenty-one years ago I lived in a flat in Liverpool, upstairs from early Mission super-fan Ray Ramone. If the band played in town, the climb back up to our flat afterwards involved stepping over sleeping Eskimo bodies all the way up the stairs. Happily, The Mission have been slogging away ever since. Granted there have been several personnel changes since they sprang fully formed from the ashes of The Sisters Of Mercy, and Wayne Hussey is the only surviving original member. However, the newly released album ‘God Is A Bullet’ is being hailed by many as a return to form, and the current tour is pulling in the punters, from the old faithful fans to curious emo kids. In fact, this particular gig has had to be upgraded from the smaller Academy 3. The Mission are striding back into town, like bigger boys, here to show The Horrors and other young whippersnappers of their ilk just how it should be done.
It’s not a sell out, but the room is pretty full and the atmosphere is one of cheerful expectation. The band stroll onto the stage and open with ‘Hdshrinkerea’ with its classic Mission sound, all swirly intro into dramatic driving beats and archetypal grandiose Hussey vocals. It’s swiftly followed though by the familiar sound of ‘Hands Across The Ocean’, which has everyone in full voice. There are plenty of tracks on show from the new album, with perhaps ‘Blush’ and ‘Draped In Red’ as stand-out tunes, and they are all quite happily received. There are, no doubt, some Mission classics of the future among them. The older material is greeted rapturously with arms raised aloft, showers of paper confetti and some enthusiastic moshing about to the strains of ‘Severina’ and ‘Naked And Savage’. Hussey swigs from a bottle of wine and admits that he’s feeling nervous, although he has no need to be. Despite some slightly dodgy sound, he has a crowd hanging on every note that he and his fellow band members produce.
Between the main set and the encores, though, the stage backdrape of the new album cover is removed to reveal the familiar old logo, and there’s a buzz of anticipation that we’ll be getting down to business now. The three encores do not disappoint, as ‘Serpent’s Kiss’ and ‘Wasteland’ bracket the latest single ‘Keep It In The Family’. Hussey finally appears with a Manc-baiting Liverpool FC scarf held aloft, and climaxes with an epic ‘Tower Of Strength’, complete with wailing Eastern backing vocals. At the climax he professes his affection for the city of Manchester. As the lights come up and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ drifts mockingly from the PA, there’s a slight air of disbelief that they aren’t going to return one more time, but we spill out and down the stairs, hot, sweaty, happy, and feeling some twenty-one years younger.