Tonight is the last date on The Mission’s 30th anniversary Tour, that is in the Northern hemisphere, for they jet off to Australia later this week. I’ll say that again, THIRTY years. It’s also poignant for me as the first time I saw them was indeed in November 1986 at the Powerhouse (long since gone) and over the passing years I’ve stuck with them, or as they would say “Kept the Faith”. It’s not always been pretty, and the late ‘90’s and noughties was, to be fair, a lean period, but with the new album Another Fall from Grace, they have truly hit form and the songs played tonight easily fit in amongst old favourites we’ve heard and sung for years.
The first problem is with such a huge back catalogue, just what do you play? They did ask on social media for suggestions, but of course I saw them at the start of this tour in Manchester and so had a good idea of the set format, but it’s nice to know they are still open to suggestions. As it turns out the set has slightly changed tonight from that Manchester gig, but still with coverage of all thirty years. Of course they will never please everyone and even playing for two hours there are certain songs not played tonight, but this would likely be true had they played for three hours.
So what’s changed in thirty years? Well tickets prices have quadrupled. The beer prices likewise, and t-shirts now cost five times more. Mr Hussey has lost his long black locks and hat to be replaced by a silver fox look, but with permanent fixed shades he remains the enigmatic frontman, picking out familiar faces in the crowd, wishing one a safe journey back to the States where “we’ll see you next year”. Mr Adams has lost all his hair but remains the solid bass powerhouse he ever was, but these days he never keeps still, where once he stood rigid to the spot he’s now all over the stage, and provides some nifty backing vocals. Then we have Mr Hinkler, ‘Slink’, who hasn’t changed a bit. In fact he looks as though he’s just wandered in from 1986, no signs of aging, still with shades and hat and playing the most idyllic guitar.
There’s no dry ice these days, instead a clear stage with considerate lighting so you can witness greatness. I should point out at this stage I am biased and wouldn’t hear a bad word against these fellas (I’ll skip over the infamous Hussey gig in Bilston) but tonight really did feel special. The last night of the tour, back in a city they’ve played many times, and it truly felt a party atmosphere, from the 30th birthday helium balloons, to the ritual confetti during “Wasteland”, to the bare-breasted lady who was repaid at the end with a white rose from Mr Hussey.
We now come to trying to pick a highlight or two from the set. Where do you start? The familiar Dambusters intro was followed by “Beyond the Pale”, sounding as fresh as it did back in 1988, “Hands across the Ocean”, a more recent release, or the superb ‘Metamorphosis’ from the current album? Or was it the brilliant ‘Blood Brothers’ which was played following and aborted ‘Never’s Longer than forever’. Personally for me it was ‘Tower of Strength’ a majestic song, which drags you in and soars away with you. A song you never want to end. It is possibly one of the finest pieces of art Hussey and co have produced and was worth tonight’s ticket price alone. Of course I’m doing the other songs an injustice, particularly set closer ‘Deliverance’ when Hussey passes white roses to the crowd, saving the last for Evie, who has provided the most beautiful backing vocals since Julianne did back in the day.
There’s a lot I’ve not covered, the long thank-you’s by Hussey, including the unanimous boos when Peter Murphy is mentioned (in fairness he was appalling at Manchester), the very early reference in the gig to Liverpool being top of the league, and the fact they now jet of for three weeks to play five gigs in Australia and “this time next week I’ll be in flip-flops and shorts” which is great as we head into our first frost of the winter.
Finally I have to mention the cupcakes which were waiting by the merchandise stand as we left, complete with sugar paper Mission logos. They were a perfect end to a perfect night.
Has it really been thirty years?
The Mission – Set List
Beyond the pale
Hands across the ocean
Tyranny of secrets
Dance on glass
Only you and you alone
Like a child again
Tower of Strength
Black mountain mist
Butterfly on a Wheel
Never’s longer than forever
Review by Glenn Raybone
Photographs by Ian Dunn