There was a moment during ‘Tower Of Strength’ tonight when I took the time to look around the packed room. Confetti stuck to my sweat-drenched skin, flanked by girls on guys shoulders, there was a sea of hands in the air, smiling and singing along to one of their favourite songs. Nobody had a mobile phone out and everyone was lost in the moment, and I thought to myself …this, this is what live music is all about. This is what I have loved my entire adult life. And this sort of energy, this camaraderie at a live gig is what keeps me coming back for more.

This is the first of 3 warm up shows by The Mission in preparation for their European tour, and it will be the last dates the band play in the UK for the foreseeable future. There is no support and The Mission will play 2 sets. To my knowledge, the band have never played York before, they probably won’t again. It has been sold out for months. This could be a night to remember.

It is hot in The Crescent before the band even take to the stage at 8pm, and by the time they finish the first set of deep cuts and curiosities, I can only describe it as being akin to having a sauna, fully clothed with 250 of your best friends!

Engulfed in a cloud of dry ice, the opening ‘Black Cat Bone’ from their 2013 opus ‘The Brightest Light’, is an atmospheric, slow-burner that builds nicely. Dressed head to foot in black, the band skulk the stage as you would expect. The tribal beats of new boy Alex Baum sound powerful and Wayne Hussey’s 12 string sounds loud, way loud! The live mix ain’t the greatest it has to be said, but that’s what you get for standing a few feet from the stage and the PA, I guess! Wayne is certainly struggling with the sound, but it seems to sort itself out after a few songs.

Some great and some may say, unexpected tunes follow. The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ sounds ace and that riff to ‘Evangeline’ is pure joy that lights the place up, a set highlight for me. The enigmatic frontman takes center stage, gesticulating to his enraptured fanbase as they sing the chorus back to him.

They mix up the old and new nicely. ‘Tyranny Of Secrets’, ‘Swoon’ and ‘Grotesque’ follow in quick succession, followed by old classics ‘And The Dance Goes On’ and ‘Into The Blue’. ‘Swan Song’ ends an hour set that dare I say it, was a bit mid-paced and lacked any big ‘hits’. But there is more to come.

A half hour break and then the band return for Set 2. This is more of a greatest hits set, consisting of the songs they will be playing on the imminent European tour. Opening with ‘Beyond the Pale’ immediately sets the scene for how a gig should be. The energy levels are off the scale, in complete contrast to the first set, where it seemed the crowd were hesitant to go for it. No such problem now, as fists punch the air in unison to the anthemic chorus and a circle pit of sorts forms sending arms and legs flailing into the unsuspecting masses.

The ebb & flow of this set seems perfect. Classics such as ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, ‘Garden Of Delight’ and a magnificent ‘Severina’ keep the energy levels high, the crowd are in fine voice and the sweat is literally dripping from every pore.

The gentle ballad ‘Butterfly On A Wheel is a welcome respite from the goth-tinged anthems and gives the more energetic amongst us a breather and a chance to get a drink. Wayne sips from a bottle of red and gets us to sing the chorus to him as he surveys the scene and smiles.

And then there’s confetti in the air… boom! ‘Wasteland’, hello my old friend! A heartbeat of a bassline from Craig Adams, effect-ridden guitars from Hussey & Simon Hinkler and that anthemic chorus. The song is jammed out with harmonics and feedback, as the frontman takes us on an extended trip, before bringing the hook back in again for a crescendo. Magnificent stuff.

Reinvigorated with its recent re-recording and release as a charity single, I guess ‘Tower Of Strength’ still stands tall as one of Wayne Hussey’s finest moments. Certainly, in this live setting it has the power to unite and enthrall in equal measures. The message in the lyrics is something we can all relate to during recent events and it stands tall as a testament to that more than anything.

They end the second set with ‘Deliverance’. I mean, c’mon, what a tune! If you aren’t making shapes with your hands through that verse and punching the air for the chorus, then what sort of a music fan are you anyway? Wayne keeps the chorus refrain going as Alex beats that bass drum, the guitarist and bassist exit stage left, leaving all eyes and ears on their band leader ending the song.

Shit, I need a drink of water and a change of t shirt, but they ain’t done yet. An encore is in order, and Wayne removes his 12 string for the first time tonight, takes to the mic and apologises for any mistakes they may make as they haven’t played the quite fitting ‘Heat’ for a long time. ‘Hungry As The Hunter’ follows and sees the band gift one last hurrah for a 2-set treat that no other show will provide on this run.

Combining the energy and bombast of an arena show, the atmosphere and intimacy of a small club show and the heat of a thousand suns, The Mission delivered a one-off performance I will remember for years to come. My ears are ringing, my clothes are drenched and my faith in live music is fully restored. If you are still under the illusion that goth rock is dreary and miserable, go see The Mission live and prepare to get the cobwebs blown away for good.

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Author: Ben Hughes