Mission to Dublin

Ireland… Dublin… a smart hotel far north of the city. A lobby, smart businessman strolling about and specifically avoiding a knot of people in one corner, clutching drinks and sporting the finest selection of black t-shirts this side of Glasnevin.
We few, we lucky few, were about to be whisked away to a mysterious secret location to witness The Mission, fine purveyors of rock and roll, tune up for their country-spanning world tour in support of brand new album, Another Fall From Grace.

Before long, George from the band’s management company turned up. Energetic, charming, quipping wildly, George is a force of nature. He quickly had us parceled up and out, and rode back in the last car with your correspondent, a curious mix of effortless ease and keyed-up excitement. We want to specifically thank George for being an impeccable host that day.

There is a long drive, through impressively unmarked gates, that leads to a gorgeous stone hall in the grounds of a chic little hotel. As we leave the car, the unmistakable sound of Tower of Strength suddenly fills the air – live, jammed, by people who not only love it but wrote it. I can’t think of a better way to start this amazing experience.

The room itself is bizarrely ornate, all wooden beams and chandeliers. It’s a long corridor, and at one end are The Mission, in full rehearsal set-up – a circle facing inwards, with the slight inconvenience of twenty or so hardcore fans perched on collapsible chairs, gawping at the entire process.

Credit to the band, it barely makes a difference. They’re meandering – no, really, meandering – to the end of Tower of Strength and we all pause after the song shrugs to a halt, unsure if that’s actually it. Craig Adams shrugs, and says “We don’t actually know where it finishes.” We all laugh and cheer, and any tension in the room is immediately dispelled.

Indeed, the band become so absorbed in their practice that Wayne Hussey flinches in surprise when we all cheer the end of each song. Other times, the band practice odd riffs, chat, laugh and bicker good-naturedly with each other. One special treat is Wayne and Craig, guitar and bass on Butterfly on a Wheel, singing along in a delightfully simple duet. Then, Evie Vine joins in at the crescendo and it’s an absolutely perfect moment. Truly unique.

Craig has engaged us as a regular commentator now, and advises us that “This is Heat, a song we haven’t done for… quite a while”. There seems to be no dust on them as the band slam through it professionally, and they’re all grinning at one another, delivering a really tricky section – until someone misses a beat, and the whole elegant structure suddenly comes tumbling down!
Simon Hinkler and Craig both suddenly riff away from one another, Mike Kelly on drums is in his own rhythm entirely, and the song staggers to an early ending and another gale of laughter. Again, the atmosphere is so close and friendly there’s no criticism or judgement of performance – it’s a true rehearsal, with everyone incredibly relaxed. A rare insight into the workings of a rock and a roll band on the world stage.

Soon, we break for refreshments and the band are all too keen to mingle with the punters. We’re all so keen to mingle in fact that the ever-resourceful George has to make a drinks dash and come back, arms laden with wine and prosecco! I’m sure it helps relax the band as they are quietly but persistently mobbed for photos.

Meanwhile, Craig Adams remains Master of Ceremonies, in a knot of chuckling fans, where he is describing the grim reality of laundry visits during non-gigging days. And you thought world tours were luxurious jaunts?! Think again…

Once we’re all selfie-d out, the band reassemble and really get their teeth into the new album. They lead with a slow, stripped down and really sexy version of the title track, but with Wayne singing it to you from just a few feet away, there’s goosepimples rising as it all becomes so very personal…

Blood on the Road is a proper little anthem, and Wayne absolutely blows us away when his voice, that familiar crooning lilt, suddenly gives way to a pure rock and roll roar. Absolutely spectacular to experience live. Almost as good as Bullets and Bayonets, my firm favourite from the new album. It’s an undulating thing of deadly splendour, a beautiful boa constrictor about to choke the life from you.

It’s all building to Met-Amor-Phosis and I am struck by how much of a natural anthem this tune is. We’re all on our feet, and it’s no longer a relaxed rehearsal, but a full on rock and roll gig. It’s an instant classic, pure Mission, and it has a sheen of brilliance thanks to the fact there’s less than thirty people in the place! I’m sorry you couldn’t have been there, but frankly… you’d have ruined it.

That was of course the high point of the band experience – so now we kick back to demolish whatever was left of the booze and buffet. I cannot accurately convey how fascinating it is to listen to Craig and his tales of mischief.
At one point, he deftly hooks a bottle of wine from my hands, pours himself a glass, and begins to tell us about yet another country the band have had to leave in a hurry, ahead of irate law enforcement officials. Blues Brothers, but instead it’s four drunk lads from England aboard a tour bus hurtling for the border.
Craig is actually throwing himself about across the polished wood floor, recreating their booze-fraught flights, leaving us all wracked by side-splitting hilarity. A consummate showman.

Of course it all orbits the main man himself. When we settle down, he and Evie draw up chairs right to the front row, he produces an acoustic guitar, and they quietly solicit requests.
It’s the absolute pinnacle of a rare experience like this, with the softly spoken, wry smiling Hussey chatting casually with his nearest and dearest fans, and Evie’s beautiful voice giving every song an amazing new veneer.
We all float away on that gentle, acoustic sound – ready to follow the band into a multitude of venues packed with hundreds that will really make us appreciate our day with The Mission.

Our very special thanks to Whitby Goth Weekend who coordinated this entire amazing experience for The Blogging Goth. You can still purchase the VIP Experience yourself, and get a little closer to The Mission, at the UK’s premier alternative music festival on November 5th.

Come up to the information stall in the Spa anytime during the Weekend to pick up a VIP Ticket – you don’t even need a ticket to the festival to get in! It’s only available from WGW directly, even the band have sold out. So share in this magic a little, and pick up a VIP ticket!


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“Another Fall From Grace” by The Mission

mission2016It’s another album from the Eighties in fact. Wayne Hussey’s thirty-year Goth Rock campaign has scored an astonishing new victory with their latest album, which the lead singer openly declares is the natural evolution from First and Last and Always to God’s Own Medicine.
There’s a link there for sure, mixing the best elements of the cavernous, cathedral-like Sisters sound with Hussey’s trademark guitar shimmer and love-struck lyrical imagery. Let us descend with Goth’s fallen (or at least, regularly falling-over) second son into  the darkest depths of his past.

The title track delivers rhythmic pounding bass, tribal drums echoing into the void, and that trademark scintillating guitar work. It’s classic Mission, redefining Eighties Goth! Oh, but “Dying a death every time I think of you” – groan!
It’s a refreshing counter however when ethereal and haunting female vocals join in. Of course, Hussey’s singing of lost and lethal love is familiar territory. The tone has convincingly been set for this foggy flashback.

Met-Amor-Phosis, the single that first hinted at this album’s sound, is an up-tempo track destined for dancefloor success. It’s brilliantly paced, invites you to chant along with its catchy vocals and is surmounted by a soaring sound that truly energises the listener. A new ‘Tower of Strength’? The fans will decide…


Now we come to an immediate favourite. Within the Deepest Darkness (Fearful) is an out-and-out spooky, spine-tingling tune. Nerve-jangling guitar riffs weave a dangerous dance with the heavy sound of unexpected footsteps in the night. You’re left fearful of it all, and yet it’s a beautiful, beguiling and deadly track. A hidden gem. See if you can spot the two surprise guest singers who join Hussey to complete a dark trifecta of vocal talent!

We’re indulging even the worst excesses of prime Mission material. Wayne Can’t See The Ocean For The Rain, and is joined again by his spectral, choral female companion in a musing and brooding love-lost song that ends with the sound of falling water. All these Goth cliches, lost, like eyeliner in the rain. Time to pout!

Moving through the album like a book, Tyranny of Secrets is the chapter with the first great battle. It’s the soundtrack to a great little video charged with grimly familiar images of worldwide terror, poverty, war and death.
Wayne seizes the opportunity to go all Jaz Coleman, right down to the hoarse rasp that the usually syrup-voiced crooner actually excels at! It’s jam packed with those twisting guitar riffs that the Mission have utterly perfected, and I can see this dominating dancefloors as well. A shining high point for me.

But you can’t have the high without the low. Wandering through the wasteland of his mind, nod wink, Wayne strolls into oddly Divine Comedy territory at times with his weirdly jaunty chorus to Never’s Longer than Forever. The rest of the time, this track feels a little slow – it doesn’t compare to exciting new tracks like Met-Amor-Phosis, or brooding gargoyles of pure Gawth like Within the Deepest Darkness. What we could have is a hit with the faithful, drunkenly accompanying from the front row – but it’s unlikely to engage a newcomer.

Eastern promise mingles with Western decadence in “Bullets and Bayonets”, bringing up images of snow falling on revolutionary Moscow, and grim Soviet shadows falling across young love. It’s a sinuous, enticing sound, with a hypnotic beat, and sly lyrics rippling along. “When the red flag was raised, it was soaked in blood” – not a Corbyn supporter then, Wayne?
This is a hidden gem, and will either delight or leave you as cold as a Siberian winter.

wayne-husseyIt’s after the impact now, we’re through the fall and we’re firmly in 1985. Phantom Pain could easily be a demo for Neverland. But that isn’t a criticism, it’s the perfect track to finish on, and you can imagine Wayne leaning back from his guitar with a drained expression. Or, more apt to the Mission, reclining post-coital with a cigarette!

It’s the middle of the night, and it’s no surprise his thoughts should wander back to fraught relationships, sound-tracked by the old arch-enemy. Sparse where it should be, other times discordant with a nod to the obtuseness of Nick Cave, it’s the deepest acknowledgement yet of The Mission’s origins in the foetid treachery of the reptile house.
For all that, the Mission emerged and have continued to excel as a superb, exciting, hilarious and committed live band that have earned their legions of loyal fans. They will cherish this memory-inducing album of brand new, old familiar classics.

Another Fall From Grace, the latest album from The Mission, will be available on September 30th. It will be available on CD, download and 180 gram vinyl plus ltd edition DELUXE double CD and DVD.

The deluxe version contains full album on CD, an instrumental version of the album with bonus remix track ‘Met-Amor-Phosis’ and a 93 minute DVD featuring never before seen footage from 1987 of The Mission performing at Elland Road, Leeds, supporting U2, Aston Villa Leisure Centre as The Metal Gurus and The Royal Court in Liverpool for the Hillsborough benefit gig, both from 1989, producer Tim Palmer’s home footage of the recording of ‘Carved in Sand’/ ’Butterfly on a Wheel’ video, and the promo video for new single Met-Amor-Phosis.

The band are also embarking on a galaxy-spanning tour immediately after the album is released, with tickets still available for some dates.

missiontourThe Blogging Goth will be seeing The Mission live at Whitby Goth Weekend on Saturday 5th November, as part of our regular reviews of live music at the biggest and best UK alternative music festival.

Check back with The Blogging Goth then for coverage of their live performance, the whole line-up and the entirety of the madness that is WGW!


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Goth Space Nine: The Dark Side of Star Trek

ds9_headHappy Birthday to Star Trek, which turns fifty this year. The definitive sci-fi TV show, it  codified tropes that would influence all subsequent creativity in the field that followed. Of course, it also adopted familiar themes and it is Deep Space Nine, the dark horse of the ensemble, that plays so freely with Gothic themes and imagery.

galaxy_class_docked_at_ds9The titular station itself is so reminiscent of a haunted house. Built by the cruel Cardassian empire, its’ arachnid appearance – so at odds with the clean white lines of Picard’s Enterprise – inspires immediate revulsion and fear in the unconscious.
In a later episode, ‘Civil Defence’, the new Starfleet owners are exploring the older, abandoned sections of this intimidating installation, and accidentally trip a forgotten security system. They are then plagued by automated defences – booby-traps – as well as recorded messages from the original station crew, specters of the past who menace our heroes. There’s even a deliciously evil twist near the end of the episode.

Into this forbidding, dark world comes widower Benjamin Sisko, carrying the familiar trappings of a man plagued by a recent loss and carrying his grief bundled up in anger. The lead character was a flawed hero, who would discover new and unsettling things about himself as the show confronted his convictions with grim scenarios. His young son Jake ages with the show, and his ascent into adolescence and manhood is a familiar tale of the death of innocence and childhood, especially in the risk-heavy atmosphere of the Federation frontier.

mirror_siskoFrequently the show explored the darker side of humanity and personality, often literally in the regular excursions to the ‘mirror universe‘ pioneered in Kirk’s ‘Original Series’. This parallel universe was typified by heightening all the negative traits of our familiar heroes and crew, and the writers gloried in painting broad, dark strokes across the familiar, noble endeavours of Starfleet officers.

More subtly, Deep Space Nine scripts were ground-breaking in terms of creating the ‘arc’ that shows like Game of Thrones and other hits now rely on – building complex journies across several episodes and series. It was a dramatic break from the isolated-episodic nature of predecessor ‘The Next Generation’, an intentional exploration of how different DS9’s worldview was.
Picard’s Enterprise sailed under the flag of a utopian Federation, committed to freedom, equality and justice. Every episode a scenario was resolved, and the Enterprise moved on to a brand new story Meanwhile, Ben Sisko frequently found himself enmeshed in the antics of a broad range of regular guest stars, or involved in murky and ongoing galactic politics – and even found himself aiding and abetting murder to secure the survival of the Federation in a grim war. The needs of the many, it seems, outweigh the moral objections of the one.

One regular thread permeating the show were the ‘Prophets’, central figures in the religion of the station’s Bajoran hosts. It was revealed early on they were also extradimensional creatures inhabiting another plane of existence – a clear derivation of Lovecraft’s Elder Gods.
At least DS9 had them divided between somewhat compassionate – if incomprehensible – Prophets, and the more familiar, evil Pah’Wraiths, who possessed characters, killed and destroyed in order to advance plots of domination familiar to readers of Cthulhu et al.

cardassia_in_ruinsThe great War that dominated the final seasons of DS9 was also a rich source of gothic tropes. The enemies were the mysterious Founders, shapeshifting aliens with a visceral hatred of all ‘solids’, in essence any other species. Their omnicidal intentions were based within their ‘othering’ as changeling beings, and their threat originated from their often exercised ability to assume the form of anyone, even our regular heroes. Again, the show achieved dramatic tension, and gothic uncertainty, by highlighting the darkness amidst the familiar.

Throughout the war, scripts grappled with topics like brutal military dictatorship, torture, abduction, the blurring of real and unreal, and death, both personal – amongst the main cast – and abstract – the high casualty count, another grim first for Star Trek.

Such stories would have been impossible in the idealistic world of ‘The Next Generation’, or the uncompromising moral code of Janeway’s ‘Voyager’.
Such a contrast is even highlighted by Sloan, the devious spymaster of Section 31 – the covert ops organisation that is at odds with all the supposed morality of the Federation.

“The Federation needs men like you, doctor. Men of conscience. Men of principle. Men who can sleep at night…
You’re also the reason Section Thirty-One exists — someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn’t share your sense of right and wrong.”

sloaninquartersDeep Space Nine was the first, and only, Star Trek show to acknowledge, explore and even relish in the darker, amoral truth of human existence. It probed genocide, religious extremism, alternative sexualities, mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder, and a host of other, hitherto forbidden topics.
It shone a harsh light on the darker tendencies of humanity, and transported them to a fantastical world amidst the stars. As such, it remains one of the most original shows on television, with one foot firmly planted in the realm of the gothic

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Post-punk Punditry: The Blogging Goth a Talking Head?

venice2It’s been a busy time for The Blogging Goth. I’ve been on my travels, with a week in beautiful Venice – a desperate attempt to submerge myself in continental culture before the bigots put up the fences.

I fielded the thirty-plus temperatures like any renaissance Englishman would, with a cream linen suit that would not have looked out of place on the rosy-red steps of Petra, for example. In this instance, the homeland of Machiavelli and Lucrezia Borgia opened its welcoming arms to us.

venice1We also visited an island of the dead. Not one of your tired, hackneyed ‘zombie’ attempts, but an entire cultivated islet totally reserved as the hallowed ultimate home of the great, good, or just fabulously wealthy.
Imagine an entire landmass – albeit not a large one – permanently in a reverent hush. We even snuck past barriers to visit the graves of Ezra Pound and Joseph Brodsky, literature fans. A highlight in a beautiful trip, and I heartily recommend Isola di San Michele to all respectful fans of final resting places.

On returning to the United Kingdom, I plunged back into the mechanics behind the scenes of The Blogging Goth. For the past few years, and mainly through the offices of The Doctor (the patient and pulchritudinous other half of my life) I’ve been attending the exciting academic adventures of the Gothic Manchester Festival as arranged by Manchester Metropolitan University. You can read a Storify of last year’s Symposium over here, where I’ve tried to distill a day of far-ranging papers and discussions in creativity of the Gothic down into a single web-page.

manchester-gothicCrucially, the festival is not purely academic-focused, with all papers encouraged to be as accessible to the general public as possible, and the doors thrown open to all and sundry. In pursuit of the same, I’m pleased to announce I am joining the roster of speakers on this year’s topic, “The Gothic North”.

My paper is titled “Dark, Satanic Music: Gothic Sound, Subculture and the North of England”. I will investigate the importance of the post-industrial North asisters-storynd its influence on the burgeoning Goth subculture of the late Seventies and Eighties; placing Leeds, Manchester, Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy and Le Phonographique in a commentary on counterculture style and sound that is often overshadowed by the capital.

All are welcome to attend this panel, on Saturday 22nd October at 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, the former Cornerhouse. You can order tickets online, and remember there are events throughout the weekend as part of the festival as well as the Symposium itself! As always, I’ll be regularly present on social media throughout the event so ensure you keep us followed!

Just how important is the North to the Goth subculture? Join us again in the beating black heart of the scene, the People’s Republic of West Yorkshire, where Goth City Festival is clawing its way from the grave.
Local megalomaniac, impresario and owner of fabulous hair Joel Heyes has organized an extravaganza of events, music, drinking, dancing, and talking in Goth Ground Zero.

goth-city-flyerThis time, I’ll be joining an entire panel of experts to dissect the hoary remains of the First City of Goth, that northern nexus that is Leeds.

“Black Planet – Leeds Goth in Perspective’ is a meeting and discussion on the origins, background and history of the goth scene in Leeds and Yorkshire, and will be a unique opportunity to hear stories, anecdotes and ideas on the development of the scene.

Speakers arranged are:
Rosie Garland (writer, performer and March Violets singer)
John Keenan (Leeds alternative music promoter)
Karl Spracklen (Professor of Leisure Studies, Leeds Beckett University)
Tim Synystyr (journalist and A Blogging Goth)
Chair: Joel Heyes (Goth City Promotions)

Held in Leeds Six – naturally – you can register your interest in this one of a kind event on Facebook, and ensure you investigate all the possibilities to wallow in Goth this festival offers you. All credit must go to the unstoppable energy of Joel, who I thank deeply for the invitation to participate, and salute his goal to give all proceeds to PAFRAS (Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers).


There are two opportunities to discover and explore our rich Gothic heritage with a host of expert guides, and myself – as well as the chance to drink and dance like it’s 1985 all over again. Stranger Things is testament that we never stopped loving the creativity of the Golden (or should that be Smouldering?) Age of Goth, so travel ‘Oop North and back in time with us!

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Punk at Forty: 1976 to Now


Journalists work like historians – we look for root causes, flash points, and key dates. History was unarguably made on June 4th 1976 in Manchester, when a couple of lads from The Buzzcocks put on the second ever gig to feature some anarchic bastards called the Sex Pistols.

We can state conclusively that punk really started there and then, with the Sex Pistols meteoric rise and their catastrophic fall. The subculture itself would follow, defiantly flaming out as the Eighties approached. Punks are still amongst us of course, and embers continued to smoulder, most notably in the hearts of the chosen few in that audience on June 4th.

I’m grateful to journalist Dave Nolan who sifted all the evidence from the thousands of people who claimed to be at a gig we know was only attended by up to forty people.

We know categorically that Morrissey was there. It wouldn’t be until 1982 that he formed The Smiths, and became the controversy courting cerebral crooner we still laud and lambast today.

Even more critically, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook would go out the following day and buy guitars – later with Ian Curtis they would form the legendary Joy Division.
Their future manager, Tony Wilson, was also in the crowd. He would describe Joy Division as having a sound that was ‘Gothic compared to the mainstream’ and a blueprint for a brand new subculture was formed.


Tony Wilson, 1991

The seeds of Goth, inheritor of the legacy of Punk as the UK’s dominant alternative subculture, were undoubtedly sown exactly forty years ago today. I hope you’ll put some punk on, spike your hawk up, and get those studded leathers out of the cupboard. Remember where it all began, and ensure it never comes to an end!

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World Goth Day 2016: The Goths Write Back

A fantastic sight, before lunchtime on an otherwise lazy Sunday! World Goth Day is officially upon us, and social media is whipping up a storm of coverage and conversation!

wgd1The two articles I contributed to are online now – in The Independent newspaper, and on the BBC3 website respectively. Who knew there was a Goth Waterpark in Tennessee? Not I, but a holiday seems necessary!

I repeatedly state in interviews and everywhere I write that we should be proud of Goth, a rich subcultural heritage stretching back three decades and showing no signs of stopping yet.
Today feels like such a concrete realisation of that, and I can’t thank DJs Cruel Britannia and martin oldgoth for starting it.

As with all journalists, Kashmira at the Independent wasn’t able to keep more than a tenth of what I sent her, so I’ve reproduced some of her excellent questions and my rambling answers below, for my take on the subculture and World Goth Day specifically.

Keep contributing to #WorldGothDay as well, and remember you’re part of a massive, longstanding community that deserves recognition at least once a year!

Continue reading

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All Goths Eve: The Night before World Goth Day

wgd-bannerGood evening all, I hope you are preparing to be proud of who you are, as it is World Goth Day on May 22nd! Once again, all our thanks to DJ Cruel Britannia and DJ Martin OldGoth for giving us a day to get our Goth on!

Tomorrow, I’ll be plugged into as much social media as I can manage. Ideally, I’ll be doing this from a bar in Newcastle with at least a jukebox I can put a decent playlist on, or the friendly rock surroundings of Trillians Rock Bar in city centre. I attempted belatedly to organise an event, and had DJs… but no venue. Next year!

Photo Credit gadgetsinfoavailable.blogspot.co.ukI’ll also be sharing a couple of articles I contributed to – BBC3 and The Independent newspaper both reached out to me for comments, which is really heartening.
I’ve maintained that a key objective of The Blogging Goth is to be a resource for journalists, so we don’t end up with inaccurate, laughable or dangerous articles in the press – I trust both the journalists I’ve spoken to, to do a good job. These will be published tomorrow.

If you’ve spoken to the media about being Goth, please let us know! I’d love to share your stories and the way it’s presented in the press. Challenging negative presumptions about depression, devil worship and deadbeat teenagers is something we should all feel passionately about.

a9ftZ88HStay involved with #WorldGothDay on social media, and let us know what you’re up to.
A big issue with the Goth scene is its fractured, tribal nature – even from city to city, here in the tiny United Kingdom, there is a disconnect between local urban scenes. It can be easy to forget there’s a worldwide subculture out there that we’re all a part of.
That’s just one more good reason to have a day to celebrate each year.

So whatever you’re doing, keep it dark and delightful. See you out there!

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