Tag Archive: The Mission

Revelations featuring The Mission + Field of the Nephilim @ 02 Academy, Birmingham 17 December 2013.

And all we want for Christmas? Well we’ll take a bit of nostalgic Gothness as Revelations rolls into town. Featuring the Fields of the Nephilim and The Mission, this gig was ‘announced’ well over a year ago. In September 2012 The Mish supported The Cult (initially with the intention of Killing Joke in tow) at this very venue (downgraded from the LG Arena) in one of their first full band reformations in a few years. In the middle of the gig Hussey announced he was talking to his mate Carl McCoy (who surprisingly few in the audience recognised) about a December gig. Well it wasn’t December 2012 – 2013 it was and here we be…

So we’re here early and so are a good few of the punters, at 7.40 there’s probably a good 1,000 here as the Nephilm are due to take the stage at 7.30 (okay so they are a tad later than billed). The Fields of The Nephilim formed in Stevenage in ’84, gaining cult success. With mythical and magical themes and Aleister Crowley influences they pulled in fans of Goth but the music scene of the time was split, the subcultures of different genres fussy in who they would follow. FOTN gained a loyal following but not necessarily those who followed The Sisters, The Mish and Bauhaus before.  I caught them early on, in a darkened tiny room that was the original legendary JBs in Dudley. By ’91 lead singer McCoy walked – he formed the Nefilim, whilst the other band members continued under the name of Rubicon. Over the years there’s been differing line-ups, sporadic appearances as The Nephilim and once again as the Fields of the Nephilim, the occasional album and emerging in 2008 to play live gigs. This is FOTN first outing in a few years – there must be a full moon, set in the right time, with the right spiritual aligning…

We’re expecting a darkened stage, full of dry ice, FOTN in the shadows, McCoy singing in his deep dark growl. And so the dry ice starts to slowly waft across the stage and over the audience, expectations are coming true. Minutes now, I suspect we wait.

McCoy still has the hat, the hair and the voice. Oh and the shades. And he still looks like he’s walked out of a dustbowl. This is 80s goth in full flow; think Sisters with a truly darkened rolling vibe…. FOTN still remain far more powerful than the insipid inspired Goth groups that followed. Is there a space in modern rock for these guys? Hell yes. And then some. Far more stage, presence and image and atmosphere than many of such indie ilk, but don’t expect conversation. McCoy is not chatty; this is performance, possibly spiritual experience for him, who knows, as he morphs into character.

FOTN are hyper serious. It’s image. It’s pure heavy rock goth. The bass beat. The band is tight; the full experience that is FOTN permeates the Academy. They are loud and are getting a great, well deserved response from the crowd. Occasionally we get men in the crowd standing on the shoulders of others – quite precariously as it happens. Arms out wide – but not moving. Epically dark. McCoy just stands between songs, head bowed, back to the audience. This is indeed the church of the Nephilm.

He speaks. “Thank you.”

An hour’s set and a break. Revelations is clearly, in reality, a double headliner.  Ethereal musical interlude as we wait for their return, then silence and they’re back. Big cheers for the band and especially for McCoy. ‘Moonchild’. I have been transported in time. Set completed with ‘Last Exit for the Lost’; arms in the air, fans mesmerized.

Four more words: “Thank you very much.”

After an hour and 10 they leave the stage.  An epic performance indeed.

***********************

And the crowd swaps. FOTN fans move to back; some leave. Oh, the subculture of genres still exists.

The Mission morphed out of the Sisters of Mercy, becoming the Sisterhood (which Eldritch then claimed) and then re-incarnating themselves as The Mission. Single ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, off ‘Last Chapter,’ soared high on the indie charts and album ‘God’s Own Medicine’ went gold.  ‘93 was their last chart success with ‘Tower of Strength’, as lineups continually changed; the band struggled on and eventually split in ’96, before a variety of incarnations and recordings over the years. Appearing last year with The Cult, this year they’ve been in the studio and recorded album ‘The Brightest Light.’

And so we wait. And wait. It’s after 9.30 – the lights go down to what appears to be a classical ‘Dam Busters’ theme, which morphs into a dirge. Finally they appear on the darkened stage. A cheer, as in the darkness, Hussey is spotted.

A drumbeat starts up; first song a newbie and The Mish clearly need warming up. In their defence the sound in this venue has notoriety for being poor. This version of Hussey is the lesser grey haired, black-sunshaded variety that looks like he’s just walked out his house – akin in jeans and shirt – no black or floppy be-scarfed hat in sight. The audience appears initially confused, and then they wake up and chuck beer as we get ‘Beyond The Pale’. Sound remains poor, but the faithful have their hands in the air and up goes the paper confetti.

Hussey: “Cheers – how the f*** are you?” Then a dig at the support for being “…a Goth Christmas road show…” He’s telling hecklers to f*** off, threatening them with his friends. He says he was in a really good mood. Clearly he isn’t now – Hussey appears to be having a hissy and as he garbles, he admits he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Methinks he’s already partaken in too much falling down water. Next track “…breathe deep, then deeper still…” – ‘Naked and Savage.’

Another new track from their new album; “Have you got it?” the crowd respond positively – though Hussey doesn’t believe them – they haven’t sold many. He says he’d too download it for free if he could. The new stuff live doesn’t have the same power or carry as the older.  Tonight, in Brum, his niece is here. Her name is Sophie and it’s her fourth Mission gig. And it’s her birthday. So we sing the song. The Mish play another newbie ‘Belief.’

‘Severina’, as people stand on the shoulders of men, is somehow lacklustre. ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’ is a tad better. ‘Sacrilege’ has the potential to deliver – there are indeed highlights within the song – the potential of what should be from The Mission – but it’s not quite there. Arms in the air to another classic, the epic ‘Wasteland’ albeit delivered manically fast. But the faithful don’t care.

Last song is another newbie. ‘Swan Song.’ Lots of people are leaving… some have departed already as the Academy crowd starts to thin out – the completed set gets a lukewarm response and we wait quietly and expectantly… Will they return?

As the bass player returns he sarcastically says “… and the crowd went wild…” Uh-oh. A complication with iPad and mike stand (?) and we’re trying to shake, shake, shake to the ‘Crystal Ocean.’ Hussey sounds more pissed. ‘Like a Hurricane’ we sing along and indeed men and girls are on shoulders again. It’s now 11pm. Curfew time. The bar closes shutters down. ‘Blood Blothers’ is delivered at breakneck speed. Then another ‘Deliverance’ rambles, but the faithful sing back. Hussey is wandering, around the stage, in the pit; offering his near empty bottle of red wine to the front of the audience. The bass player is somehow precariously lying on the amp at the side of the stage attempting to play. The song completed with Hussey singing the final line with just the drummer. And they’re off. People are still leaving. There’s no rapturous applause – a response yes – but some confusion. Will they return one again – they’re well after the venue curfew? But they do. The bass player returns to tell the audience he’s totally twatted. We’ve noticed.

The finale, once again, has glimpses of what The Mish can deliver – ‘Tower of Strength’ gets hands in the air and a potential people pyramid. Hussey goes a-wandering again – he’s in the pit, lauding the attention. As the track comes to a close, bizarrely Hussey starts singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before telling a heckler to “shut the f*** up!” and meandering off stage. The bass player, so blasted, has once again managed to lie on the amp, in a vague attempt to play horizontally. He’s too obliterated to get down; he’s carried off over a roadie’s shoulder, to which the crowd cheers.

Tonight was a weird one in loads of ways. What a mixture. FOTN were surprisingly relevant. The stars and mystical forces were clearly aligned. Atmospheric, though not overblown, tight and powerful. They delivered and then some. They may not have the commercial back catalogue that The Mish have but they delivered on every other level. Well worth catching for the experience if you can and should McCoy choose, their time may well be here, now that genres are intermixed, playing festivals outside of their genre is a huge option. Lesser known bands have done more.

And so to The Mish. I’ve seen these guys’ lots of time, from The Powerhouse as ‘Serpent’s Kiss’ broke, to a vague memory of their dizzy heights at the NEC. And I’ve seen them when they’ve been pissed up before. They’ve a powerful back catalogue, songs like ‘Tower of Strength’ stand out when played on Kerrang! radio. With an announcement of this gig over a year ago, tour dates released months ago, a new album in tow, this could have been so much more. The rare performance of FOTN didn’t just blow The Mish of stage – they totally annihilated them. Rock n’ roll pissed up performances may have a coolness to them but only if you deliver.  This Mish set was definitely one for the faithful. What a shame.

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Setlist

Fields of the Nephilim
(Dead but Dreaming)
Chord of Souls
For Her Light
At the Gates of Silent Memory
Love Under Will
The Watchman
New Gold Dawn
Psychonaut
Mourning Sun

Encore:
Moonchild
Last Exit for the Lost

 

The Mission
Black Cat Bone
Beyond the Pale
Hands Across the Ocean
Naked and Savage
The Girl in a Furskin Rug
Belief
Severina
Butterfly on a Wheel
Everything but the Squeal
The Crystal Ocean
Wasteland
Swan Song

Encore 1:
Crystal Ocean
Like a Hurricane
Blood Brothers
Deliverance

Encore 2:
Tower of Strength

***********************

Review for Gig Junkies. Pictures Ken Harrison

The Cult and The Mission, 02 Academy Birmingham, 15th September 2012

Fire, Rain and Sanctuary. Sacrilege and Deliverance. And a little bit of Wasteland. We get all that plus lots more as The Cult and The Mission roll into town.

When this tour was announced it was announced as a UK Arena Tour. Three classic indie, alternative, rock, goth bands. The Cult, The Mission and Killing Joke. All on one bill. Wow. At The LG Arena – huh? Slightly confused by this – whilst The Cult and The Mission in their hey-day did indeed fill the NEC as it was known then, could they really fill it now? Well the answer became clear – the tour was downgraded to the more intimate 02 Academies across the country. These they did indeed, unsurprisingly, sell out. Then there was the further adventures of Killing Joke. Lead singer Jaz Coleman suddenly mysteriously disappeared to the concerns of the band and then equally suddenly re-appeared in Africa. A web post appeared, allegedly from Coleman, berating The Cult and not wanting to be part of this tour. Apparently a fake post – whatever the story – sadly Killing Joke are no a part of this and as we enter the main Academy room we are greeted with a little sign stating no Killing Joke and that The Mission and The Cult will be playing extended sets.

The stage is darkened, spotlights on the band and dry ice everywhere, The Mish, Hussey still in black, now grey-haired but still wearing those shades: “Cheers, thank you very much… I’ve been told to keep it short between songs – someone reckoned I talk to much…” He announces a new song ‘Falling’ to which the crowd cheekily boo. With this being a ‘double headliner’ gig you get two batches of fans, those for each band. Some talk while the Mish are on, clearly waiting for The Cult – bless, the goths have grown up – parents with kids, the odd punk, the odd goth in hat and black shades.

Hussey is clearly enjoying the gig, his voice is well on form – ‘Sacrilege ‘ gets a cheer, ‘Wasteland’ gets the crowds arms waving; someone throwing the traditional paper pieces in the air. No ‘towers’ of people, this is the Academy, health and safety rules, the odd person on a shoulder get a security guard shining a torch on them. So much for the good old days, when the ‘towers’ were layered four ‘storeys’ high with people. ‘Deliverance’ gets everyone singing along, a quick break then to Hussey once again: “ Thank you… we will be back soon… December…. I’ve a meeting Monday morning …. with Carl McCoy.” (So speculation of a double ‘goth’ headliner – The Mish and The Fields of the Nephilim then). Next up their version of Neil Young’s ‘Like a Hurricane’ before another quick break, as Hussey returns to the stage, he ‘nicks’ a hat from the audience, akin with black scarf. He pops it on, before circulating it to another band member. For the finale we get an extended, extended rendition of ‘Tower of Strength’ to which the crowd enthusiastically join in. An enjoyable set, while they may have been away for a while, they certainly haven’t lost it.

So as the audience swaps, The Mish fans vacating the front of the stage to be replaced by Cult ones, the break between bands is supposed to be about 30 minutes. A slow hand clap starts from the fans, and heading towards a 50 minute interval, The Cult appear, introduced by a dancey Native American chant. The enigmatic Astbury’s hair is slicked back, in shades and fur-collared coat, tambourine in hand. Duffy, the underrated class guitarist that he is, strikes the cords and we’re into ‘Lil Devil.’ The crowd cheer as they do all night. After the psychedelic ‘Rain’ from the ‘Love’ album – Astbury says “Good evening (to a place that didn’t sound like Birmingham!)” in his full on American drawl. The set features new tracks from new album – ‘Choice of Weapon’ – Astbury: “This is for the survivors…. We are the come back kids….”, as well as classics from throughout their career. But don’t expect ‘Resurrection Joe’ which gets a swift brush off from Astbury as an audience member requests it.

This is a five date tour – Killing Joke didn’t make it, but have been out and about gigging recently with new material in tow. The Mish, after a hiatus (Hussey declared in 2008 it was the end of the band) have clearly enjoyed this little tour and are putting together new material and sounds like they will be back in Birmingham soon. The Cult have become perennial tourers, appearing on the gigging scene pretty regularly. While their arena days in the UK are behind them – they still put on a class show. Duffy’s guitar riff intro’s on tracks like ‘Lil Devil’ and ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ will send the hackles up on the back of your neck.

This was a nostalgia tour, with a smattering of the new – worth £35? Well tonight’s gig, regardless of the pre-history of venues and line-ups, sold out. All three bands (here tonight or not) loved or hated in equal measure, are well worth seeing in their own headlining right. They’ll be back – take a peek.

*******

The Mission:

  1. Beyond the Pale
  2. Hands Across the Ocean
  3. Naked and Savage
  4. Severina
  5. Butterfly on a Wheel
  6. Falling
  7. Sacrilege
  8. Belief
  9. The Crystal Ocean
  10. Wasteland
  11. Deliverance

Encore:

  1. Like a Hurricane

Encore II:

  1. Tower of Strength

*******

The Cult:

  1. Lil Devil
  2. Rain
  3. Honey from a Knife
  4. Nirvana
  5. Embers
  6. Fire Woman
  7. Horse Nation
  8. Lucifer
  9. The Phoenix
  10. The Wolf
  11. Life is Better than Death
  12. Rise
  13. For the Animals
  14. Spiritwalker
  15. Wild Flower
  16. She Sells Sanctuary

Encore:

  1. Love Removal Machine

*******

Listening:

The Cult:

Dreamtime [1984]

Love [1985]

Choice of Weapon [2012]

The Mission

God’s Own Medicine [1986]

First Chapter [1987]

Children [1988]

Carved in sand [1990]

Killing Joke

Nightime [1985]

MMXII [2012]

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Review for Birmingham LIve!