I’m beginning to think that we live in an era devoid of time, where decades past coexist alongside the present as if the hourglass is continuously flipping over. This past summer I was witness to Modern English, Bow Wow Wow, OMD, and New Order playing live shows to varying degrees of success and sizes of crowds. In some sense its a Godsend, as overly protective parents caused me to miss many acts in their prime. However, I also can’t help but think that there might be some kind of conspiracy afoot to induce a midlife crisis, as I find myself feeling a sense of nostalgia even for bands for which I didn’t have as much fondness as my teenage droogs.
Such is the case with The Mission (a.k.a. The Mission UK), whose output in the ’80s I found disappointing given the band’s pedigree as ex-members of Sisters of Mercy and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. I nonetheless found myself excited to hear their new album, The Brightest Light, and catch them live. Listening to their debut, God’s Own Medicine, in preparation, the record—a ubiquitous inclusion in any goth’s collection when I was kid—sounded better than I remembered, and live this turned out to be the case even more so.
Consisting these days of original members Wayne Hussy (vocals and guitar), Simon Hinkler (guitar) and Craig Adams (bassist), along with new drummer Mike Kelly, the band entered to a darkened stage and launched into “Black Cat Bone,” the leadoff track from the new album. The bombastic cut was a suitable place to start—especially with Hussy’s lyrics about growing older and more grizzled—but it also exemplified the cockrock leanings that marred the band’s past work, IMHO. But as the band delved into its catalog—“Beyond the Pale” from Children, “Serpent’s Kiss” and “Naked and Savage” from The First Chapter—it also became apparent how that bombast was indicative of a certain amount of bellyfire Hussy and his cohorts still possess. As the set, which stuck to the first four records and the new album, progressed, subsequent new cuts revealed the creative sparks that surely fuelled the band in its initial years. Singing “Sometimes the Brightest Light Comes from the Darkest Place,” Hussy’s gnarled visage belied a youthful vigor.
Still, it was the oldest material that resonated the greatest. “Severina,” from the debut, was no doubt the favorite of the night, with the audience belting out the song’s refrains. The band’s cover of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane,” which they recorded for The First Chapter, didn’t seem frivolous, but rather a perfect segue into “Wasteland.” However, delving into “All Along the Watchtower” and “Stairway to Heaven” during the encore was probably unnecessary. Nevertheless, by the time The Mission finished with “Tower of Strength,” it wasn’t nostalgia that one felt, but rather the power of a band still very much alive in the present.