The Mission – The Crescent, York, 2nd August 2022

Posted: 3 August 2022 in Live

Christopher Nosnibor

Bands above a certain size rarely come to York. It may boast two universities, but it’s a small city with a small catchment, and with its proximity to Leeds and only one larger venue which is very much geared to more sedate / seated gigs by the likes of Mike and the Mechanics and Katie Melua (that The Manic Street Preachers played there earlier this year probably says more about the band’s career trajectory than anything). So The Mission – who comfortably play circa 2,000 capacity venues around the UK and major festivals in mainland Europe, where they still really love a certain strain of alternative rock (and I don’t just mean so-called goth) – playing a warm-up show in a 300-capacity venue is a big deal, and it’s hardly surprising it sold out in a matter of days.

The prospect of no support, and instead, two sets from The Mission only made the prospect sweeter, and one of the reasons fans are so loyal to the band is because they’re a great live act who, through Wayne’s affable charm, create an outstanding rapport during their shows.

On a personal level – and I’m here as a paying punter – there’s an added layer off special here: The Mission were the first band I properly got into, aged thirteen, and the first ‘proper’ gig I attended was at Sheffield City Hall in March 1990 while touring Carved in Sand. I was way, way back in the back row of the top balcony. The band looked tiny: they were fucking miles away. But it was a great show, with two -or was it three encores, featuring ‘1969’ and ‘Like a Hurricane’ and ‘Shelter from the Storm’. The support act, I would later learn, was Salvation, and thus began my voyage into the alternative musical world. There is no way that I would have imagined that thirty-two years later I would be standing in a venue that’s a fifteen-minute walk from my house and which I’ve been to countless times, standing in the front row, no barrier, within touching distance of this band. And over this time, my appreciation of Craig Adams has grown immensely: one of the original Sisters, as well as bassist for The Alarm and Spear of Destiny, he has to be one of the solidest players going, the absolute king of beefy, on-the-beat grooves. It’s a shame he’s barely audible during the first set. But then, there isn’t much that is above Wayne’s guitar, and most of that is a wall of feedback.


In fact, the sound isn’t great, the vocals distorting at certain frequencies being a real issue, especially for anyone without earplugs. And holy fuck, is it hot. It was getting warm before the band took to the stage, as the smoke began to fill the space: that stuff seems to trap heat like a blanket, but with the aircon inexplicably switched off, two or three songs in and everyone is melting. The first set is a bit of a mixed bag of more recent material, with some unexpected gems from the deeper depths of the back catalogue, with their cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ landing early, and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Die’, ‘And the Dance Goes on’ and ‘Into the Blue’ sparking hard-hitting nostalgia (I’d completely forgotten being on holiday in the Lake District when non-album single ‘Into the Blue’ was released and having my parents drive to Keswick where I purchased the 7”, 12” and CD and my father thinking I was absolutely nuts). I expect many of those present will each have uniquely personal memories connected to various songs, and to the band overall.


They fumbled their way around at times, but rather than detracting, only added to the charm of the intimate show, which felt like a gathering of friends more than anything. Very hot, sweaty friends, with hundreds of old goths sweating out pints faster than they could be drunk.

The second set was a straight run-through of their upcoming German festival set, and as such, was an hour a quarter of solid back-to-back hits and bangers. They’ve got the sound sorted and everything feels altogether more together, perhaps in part because they’re playing material that’s much more familiar. Either way, it feels almost like a different gig. Only every bit as hot as the last one. Craig actually took his beanie off for this, and Wayne had had a change of shirt, the lucky sod. By now the place was hotter than Satan’s sphincter after a phaal. The inclusion of ‘Naked and Savage’ was a pleasant surprise, and the number of people piling up on shoulders during ‘Tower of Strength’ was a joy to behold, before they wrapped up as is standard with a belting ‘Deliverance’.


They weren’t done there, either, throwing in an encore with another three songs, including an apposite ‘Heat’ and racing to the finish with ‘Hungry as the Hunter’. And right there, in that instant, we’re back in 1990. Carved in Sand may not have been their best album, but at the time, the band had hit a commercial peak and those songs will forever be tied to that time. The Mission aren’t purely a heritage act by any means, but they’re as aware as any one of the 400 fans here tonight that the body of work they assembled between 1986 and 1991is something special, and tonight was special.

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