Back in February 2020 The Mission warmed up for what was to be a lengthy European tour just across the city at the Institute ( http://www.themidlandsrocks.com/the-mission-o2-institute-birmingham-saturday-29th-february-2020/ ). A couple of weeks later, of course, everything came to a shuddering halt and it has taken two years for them to get the show back on the road. Tonight they were at the Academy 2, a room that has its limitations but when close to capacity captures the unmistakable sweat soaked club vibe that is often absent from modern day venues.
There has been a change in the line-up since we last caught the band live; Wayne Hussey is still flanked by Simon Hinkler to his left and Craig Adams to his right but sat behind the drum kit is Alex Baum. Recruited at short notice, Alex had only a short time to learn the set. He has clearly been taken to heart by the band’s devoted following and his performance is even more impressive given the set list is rotating each night, dropping the needle at various points across their career (since 1986, as the t-shirts reminded us).
‘Beyond the Pale’ is the natural opener, the melodramatic beginning soon giving way to the adrenaline rush of psychedelic riffs and uplifting chorus. They have had their ups and downs across the years but there is an ease about Hussey, Hinkler and Adams and the way they gel together on stage; they have played many of these songs countless times but it still feels vital and inspired. Live favourites ‘Like a Hurricane’ and ‘Into the Blue’ are mixed with deeper cuts ‘Sea of Love’ and the more recent ‘Tyranny of Secrets’ and ‘Grotesque’, the latter allowing Hinkler the opportunity to indulge in some impressive soloing.
Between songs Hussey engaged with the crowd in some banter about the set list, the venue and the night’s football scores, albeit much of this was lost on those who don’t follow the band from show to show. The main set closed with the glorious trio of ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’, ‘Wasteland’ and ‘Deliverance’, complete with tall-bloke-stood-on-shoulders that has been a staple of Mission shows since way back when. A lengthy six song encore saw the set hit the two hour mark, and included the anthemic ‘Swan Song’ and a pulsating and raucous ‘Crystal Ocean’ which led into ‘Tower of Strength’, a timeless song which remains a hugely dramatic and grandiose way to bring it all to a close.
There is a quote from the Godfather III on the back of the tour shirts that states “just when I thought I was out they pull me back in” which sums up The Mission rather well. Thirty years since their commercial peak they are still out there delighting the crowd night after night and giving it their all. Go and see them again, you may just have forgotten how great they are.
Beyond the Pale
Like a Child Again
Like a Hurricane
Sea of Love
Tyranny of Secrets
Into the Blue
Butterfly on a Wheel
The Grip of Disease
The Crystal Ocean
Tower of Strength