The Mission: We are blood brothers

The Mission/Blood Brothers | O2 Academy Islington | 23 July 2015

The O2 Academy Islington is sticky hot. And not just due to the raging sea of bodies, sometimes piled on top of each other, their arms aloft, singing/chanting/shouting as one. On a summer’s night.

Wayne Hussey reveals he’s coming down with something and needs to sweat it out. So the temperature’s been turned up. But that’s the only concession he makes to his condition – during a jubilant two-and-a-half hours on stage, there’s no hint the singer and guitarist isn’t running at 100%. Instead, perhaps buoyed by the rapturous crowd, he genuinely seems to relish performing with all the intensity and passion demanded by his songs – be they hits or rarities.

Those (relative) obscurities get their due during The Mission’s support slot. Opening with a clutch of songs from 2013’s ‘The Brightest Light’ – including ‘Black Cat Bone’ and ‘Everything But The Squeal’ – the set digs deep into their catalogue. Their debut album’s brooding ‘Dance On Glass’ is joined by the sultry ‘Evangeline’ (from 2001’s oft-overlooked masterpiece ‘Aura’) and the two best songs from 1995’s criminally underrated ‘Neverland’: the hypnotic ‘Swoon’ and despairing epic ‘Daddy’s Going To Heaven Now’. Hussey’s sleek solo single from last year, ‘Wither On The Vine’, even makes a welcome appearance, getting a muscular full-band makeover and jokingly described as a track from the group’s next studio release.

A real treat for the diehard fans, these much loved offerings are the perfect warm-up to a more traditional The Mission show (even if tonight it’s performed by Blood Brothers: the band’s intimate-venue alter egos, not some Seattle post-harcore misfits). Drawing primarily from their first three albums – ‘God’s Own Medicine’, ‘Children’, ‘Carved In Sand’ – these are the songs that (literally) generate the most heat tonight. A dramatic, sweeping ‘Beyond The Pale’ sets the scene for the likes of darkly threatening ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, celebratory ‘Severina’, thunderous ‘Like A Hurricane’, and howl-into-the-dark anthem ‘Wasteland’.

But even amidst the expected crowd-pleasing highlights of ‘Butterfly On A Wheel’ and triumphant show closers ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Tower Of Strength’, the band are capable of pulling off equally magnificent surprises. Like the adrenalised rendition of ‘Like A Child Again’ and a grittier take on latterday classic ‘Swan Song’. Yet it’s one of the quietest, understated moments in The Mission’s oeuvre that provides the night’s emotional climax. Alone on stage, Hussey performs ‘Father’ for the recently bereaved Nick Cave, his plaintive vocal and feedback-drenched guitar temporarily silencing the raging sea before him.

  • See photos of The Mission and Blood Brothers at O2 Academy Islington here.
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