Live Review: The Mission, Wembley Arena, 23rd March, 1990

Photo by Dave Clark

Shomeshing Missioning

Think of the MISSION and up springs the cliches, i.e. the dry ice, dark shades, swirling guitars, and doomy mystical lyrics inspired by something more than a six-pack. True enough there's no smoke without fire but peering through the dry-ice you'll find a little bit more to them than simply a bunch of Goth rockers from oop North.

Their latest platter Carved in Sand, whilst not including anything as transcendental as Beyond the Pale, does indicate a growing maturity and diversity in their music.

However the Mish get off to a leaden start. I suppose trying to warm up at the 'Barn' is akin to warming up in a morgue!

Ten minutes into the set Hussey's anguished vocals bring the faithful to life. He then proceeds to greet us.

"Good evening are you alright?"

The response is an emphatic roar and it's straight into the unmistakable opening chords of Wasteland and 10,000 outstretched arms clap in unison.

This is followed by the sinister hiss of Serpent's Kiss and the recent hit single, the wistful yearning Butterfly On a Wheel. The additional use of synths skillfully add to the texture of the song Severina, but it isn't quite the same without the soothing vocals of All About Eve's Julianne Regan, but unlike some of their other songs it doesn't meander, and works well live.

Hussey informs us that's he's drinking water tonight.

"There's a reason for that."

Seems like Wayne's been knocking back a bottle too many of the old Liebfraumilch – or perhaps something a tad stronger! Still, he hasn't fallen over yet and whilst he's no Robert Plant, his vocals have never sounded better. Talking of 'Percy' brings me on to Zeppelin and you can't escape the lingering Zep influence circa. Kashmir period but it's not blatantly derivative.

The high point of the evening is Beyond The Pale, which conjures up vast panoramic images of desert plains. Hussey's near desperate vocals are delivered with real conviction.

Someone behind me mutters, "Ere, who's that other geezer running around on stage?"

The geezer is none other than the band's producer Tim Palmer – diamond geezer! "Smart-ass journo," you're probably thinking. No not really, I'm indebted to my reliable source in Acton!

Hussey straps on the old acoustic and his gentle intro leads into another classic epic Tower of Strength – rays of light flood the masses.

Bludgeoning drums introduce the verging-on-heavy-metalish Sacrilege. Deliverance, the current single, is an archetypical Mission song and the Eskimoes voted for it. These Eskimoes don't dwell in Igloos but are actually the Mish fan club. The front rows are seriously wigging out in almost quasi-religious manner.

It's encore time again, and this is almost a mini-concert in itself. Amelia, from the new album, is a heart-rending social observation on the disturbing reality of child abuse. However, the bulk of the encores are covers – five in fact! Everything from the Kinks, the chant-a-long party atmosphere of Slade's Mama But We're All Crazy Now and a favourite Mish cover Neil Young's Like A Hurricane.

They overdoze a little on the covers which was unfortunate. Maybe it was a rehearsal for an album of cover versions, maybe they just felt like it. However, it was a shame they didn't give an airing to new songs like the imperious Belief and Hungry As The Hunter.

If the Mission want to straddle vast auditoriums/ stadiums they'll have to communicate better with the back rows. Love them or loathe them, that's something that the likes of Bon Jovi and U2 have managed in their differing ways. Bearing that in mind, their brooding, darkly atmospheric music would be better suited and more convincing in a mid-sized venue like the Town and Country Club.

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
May 1990
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