The men in black celebrate 30 years
Proving the old adage that old punks never die, they just go acoustic, Pauline Murray makes for a fine solo artist. Making her name with Penetration in the mid 1970s, she plays one of their songs “Don’t Dictate” at the end of her bright and breezy set here. Elsewhere there is a very English, working class feel to the material. “Guilty” is a track about “when your kids get in trouble with the law” and “Missing” is a tale of a missing person from the family’s point of view. Interesting and engaging stuff from a woman who clearly does this for love.
The Vampire quota of Birmingham goes up the second Finnish dark rock masters 69 Eyes hit the stage. A leather clad force (save for topless drummer Jussi who sticks to just the leather trousers) the Helsinki based mob were very obviously an influence on the likes of H.I.M and their polished brand of rock n roll is essentially The Sisters Of Mercy meets Elvis – via a knife fight down a dark alley. Having been around for 25 years, they’ve built up enough stage craft and fine songs to do 45 minutes here with their eyes shut. “Gothic Girl~” races out of the blocks, “Jet Fighter Plane” from their recent “Universal Monsters” record is a fine effort, “Free Berlin” pulses with an electricity and they do a neat line in dark balladry with “Sister Of Clarity”. Jyrki is effortlessly cool with his dark glasses on, and “Brandon Lee” has more than a hint of Paradise Lost about it – they even afford themselves a de facto encore with “Dance D’Amour” and a fabulous “Lost Boys” bringing things to a crescendo as Jyrki and guitarist Timo-Timo indulge in a kind of war dance to end a very tasty 69 indeed.
Wayne Hussey is in a good mood: “We are top of the league, that’s all I have to say…..” referring to Liverpool’s ascent to the top of the Premier League table earlier on in the afternoon. He doesn’t strike you as the type of man who might want to party, mind you. Surveying the balloons that one or two members of the audience have brought in, he smiles and says: “very nice, now burn the buggers.”
There are, after all, more pressing matters to attend to on this, their last UK gig of the year. Not least of which is setting about showing off both their back catalogue – but also their future. Three new songs are in the set tonight and one of them, “Meta-amor-Phosis” is a real fist-pumping favourite already. It wouldn’t, after all, be right to rest on any laurels. That’s not what Hussey or The Mission have ever been about.
This is a long set – clocking in at two hours – and on which is heavy on highlights.. “Beyond The Pale” is a thumping thing to start off, “Evangeline” and “Severina” both fine affairs, while another of the new efforts, “The Tyranny Of Secrets” crackles with an electro undercurrent.
“Dance On Glass” seethes, but this actually a warmer collection than you might think. “Tower Of Strength” dedicated to the late Pete Burns, who Hussey had played with in Dead Or Alive, sees band and audience together as one, while “Belief” is simply a singalong.
After “Wasteland” (which is turned – literally – into ticker tape parade) there is a lengthy encore – with “Black Mountain Mist” turned into an acoustic duet from Hussey and Evie Vine, who provided fine vocals all evening, a real standout moment. Towards its end the singer is presented with a framed album cover to commemorate their three decades, and jokes in typical self-deprecating style that he is going to put it on the merch table for £150.
They return for a second encore – the classic “Deliverance” and here the party really starts, moshpits, smoke effects, topless here its all here and at its end even the grizzled singer appears emotional. “Thank you,” he says. “Liverpool and The Mission, top of the league…..”
Neither, it seems, will ever walk alone.