The Mission UK, Sala Bikini, Barcelona 17/10/2011

It looks like October is old-school goth concert month for me. Not a couple of weeks after the excellent Peter Murphy show, I’m back in Bikini, this time for a couple of 80s goth-rock champions, The Mission, supported by Gene Loves Jezebel. To be honest, if I’d realised about The Mission reunion tour earlier, I would have actually gone to see them in London, where The Fields of the Nephilim were also on the bill. I’m actually a bigger fan of FoTN than I am of either of these two, but I’m still excited. On arrival I find a friend who was also around for the Peter Murphy gig (with a cool blog of her own @ http://miscreacionescrueles.blogspot.es/) and geared up to finally hear some dark rock club classics live.

The show gets off to something of a shaky start, however. The doors open around half an hour late and when Gene Loves Jezebel finally come on, there’s a palpable awkwardness about them as they potter around the stage, looking pretty frazzled and a little lost. It soon becomes clear, as the band later states outright, that they have no road crew whatsoever. You might already be aware that Gene Loves Jezebel are in fact two bands, one for each of the feuding Aston twins. I’m not really sure which one I’m seeing, to be honest, but I’d guess it would be Jay Aston’s band, the UK Gene Loves Jezebel. Taunts from the audience: ‘Where’s your brother?’ Either way, the band have long ditched the glam look of their 80s heyday, opting for a more muted and modern black t-shirt and shades uniform all round. They play a short set, and only just about manage to shake off the original awkwardness gradually as they go on.

GLJ clearly have a fair few diehard fans in the audience, who dance and sing along to ‘Motion of Love’ and ‘Desire’ (Jay engages in a pet peeve of mine far too often, which is when a singer tries to get the audience to sing most of the song for them. Clearly he’s not having a good day, vocally speaking, but it’s still annoying). All in all, the performance doesn’t really do justice to either the price of the ticket or the legacy of the band, especially given what follows.

The Mission, on the other hand, roll on stage ready to rock. Ok, so they’re a bit paunchy, a little jowly, a tad wrinkly and thin up top but, much like Peter Murphy, they bring it in a way that blasts away the question of age as any excuse for a band not to rock hard well into their pensioner years. This tour marks the 25th anniversary of the band itself, and the original line-up have re-united to bring the original incarnation of The Mission back to the fans.

Despite the years, it doesn’t sound like The Mission have abandoned their hard partying ways. Wayne Hussey still oozes rock star cool ‘So…Bikini in Barcelona… apparently, I’ve been here before about…8 times?’ The crowd adores him, despite almost certainly not being able to understand a word behind his accent (incidentally, a Liverpool FC flag is draped proudly beside the drum kit). He jumps, struts and kicks around the stage with all the energy of the glory days, and it soons becomes clear where all that energy is coming from when he emerges for the encore with a furious nosebleed ‘Shit, the cocaine’s really strong over here. You all thought I’d given it up, didn’t you?’

With his chains, big sunglasses and bloody face, Wayne looks more like something from the cover art of a Vampire: The Masquerade rulbook than ever. The rest of the band, while less wild, have an icy cool stage presence befitting the godfathers of gothic rock. The set list is choc full of greatest hits and classics from their extensive discography, my personal favourites being their rocked-up cover of the Neil Young ballaed ‘Like Hurricane’, and of course, the goth club staple ‘Deliverance’, which always sends me back to the days when I’d fallen in with a neo pagan bunch in the north of England, dancing, drinking, and drugging in old sacred places out in the moors.

Those of you clued up on your pop history might know that the Mission formed from the disintegration of the original incarnation of The Sisters of Mercy waaay back in 86, the year of my birth. Relations between the band and Andrew Eldritch and co have been none too friendly and rather litigious. I’ve always been more of a Sisters fan than a Mission fan, as much as I like them both. But if anyone’s loyalties are divided between which to see on tour, take it from me and go see The Mission. As a live show, they brought a lot of what was lacking in the Sisters show that I saw in Leeds a few years ago. Energy, intimacy and a great sense of fun and love for the crowd.

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~ by theserpentscircle on October 23, 2011.

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