Blood Brothers – The Mission’s intimate gig alter ego – is the moniker often deployed by the gothic rockers when testing new material, but after a year’s hiatus, the focus on this three-date jaunt is warming up for festival season.
On entering Gorilla it’s clear that the term Blood Brothers applies as much to the fans as the band. The Mission’s congregation remain devout: women in ’Bloody Sisters’ T-shirts joyfully hug men in ‘Bloody Brothers’ equivalents, first-wave goths reminisce in Manchester accents and there’s a palpable sense of community.
A low end rumble interrupts the reunion and announces the arrival of bassist Craig Adams, drummer Mike Kelly and lead guitarist Simon Hinkler, before an excited roar greets Wayne Hussey entry. The floor tom-thumping and roving guitar feedback of Black Cat Bone makes for an impressive and atmospheric intro – so much so, that we’re willing to let go the fact that Hussey and Hinkler are wearing sunglasses in the darkest venue in Britain.
Dry ice abounds as the ‘Brothers work their way through the first set of “new old ones”. “I believe in the Manchester What’s On Blood Brothers are listed as an Iron Maiden tribute band,” announces Hussey. “So, I guess the question is: has anyone come to see an Iron Maiden tribute band?” The crowd response is, of course, an animated: “YEAH!” “Well, fuck off!” finishes Hussey, neatly.
The rousing Daddy’s Going To Heaven Now provides a spirited sing along, while Hinkey’s wailing needling solo and some frantic snare play prove particularly soul-piercing and bring part one to a cathartic close.
The winding intro of Beyond The Pale announces the arrival of a second set of what Hussey earlier referred to as “songs you probably want to hear”. The rapidly increasing crowd movement prove he’s right, of course, and as he unleashes the fan favourites (Blood Brothers, Garden Of Delight, Severina) an approximation of a mosh pit forms.
It feels feverish in places and there’s a poignant moment as the music drops out after the Wasteland chorus and the crowd yell “no one can hear my voice” across ringing harmonics. It’s intended as the closer, but – despite the two hours plus of material delivered already – this audience is not leaving without an encore.
Hussey and co return to deliver Butterfly On A Wheel. People are pulling themselves off the walls at this point, but it inspires crowd to new heights: quite literally, it turns out, as we witness a bloody sister sat on someone’s shoulders, on someone’s shoulders. It’s an effect that resembles the human centipede on its hind legs, but the spectacle enhances the eery beauty of Butterfly… and we’re struck by how well the hard-living Hussey’s voice has held up, not just through tonight’s marathon session, but through the years.
They close the night with Deliverance and leave the crowd chanting “give me deliverance” over sound of a thudding bass drum. The Mission’s preacher and his choir: neither wants it to end.
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