Sophie Lancaster Foundation to receive Government Funding

The Department for Communities and Local Government, part of the British Government, has awarded £50,000 to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. The grant is part of a larger fund given to four groups that have historically faced challenges in reporting and preventing hate crime – £375,000 in total.

bsi_soplc01The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was set up in 2007 by Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter was murdered in 2007. Her killers were described as being motivated by Sophie’s Goth appearance at their trial. The case was widely discussed as an extreme and tragic example of intolerance and violence directed towards the Goth subculture.

In a statement on the Foundation’s website, Sylvia stated:

“For this funding to be granted in Sophie’s 10th anniversary year is validation of our work in my daughter’s memory. Sophie was murdered in a hate motivated attack and I have spent my time since the day she died trying to ensure no one else suffers because they are expressing their individuality”

“The UK Government have long recognised that hate crimes damage our communities and are supporting work to strengthen the education that is needed to challenge and prevent intolerance and prejudice.
We start with primary school age children while also training police and other professionals. We are grateful for this funding that will support us to develop resources that raise empathy and encourage the celebration, not fear, of ‘difference’.”

32419276615_2a9356e373_zA spokesperson for the Foundation added “We intend to develop educational resources around the film Black Roses and reach new geographical areas”. 

Secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javid described the groups who will receive the financial package as those that include race and faith groups, and those working at challenging the prejudice towards people from alternative subcultures.

In launching the funding at The Anne Frank Trust Annual Lunch to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in London, Mr. Javid is quoted as saying

“These funds build upon what government is already doing through the Hate Crime Action Plan to challenge the misperceptions that lead to hate crime and support victims from marginalised communities to stand up and report incidents.

Let me be clear. Hate crime has no place whatsoever in British society. We will not stand for it. All communities must be able to live their lives free from fear of verbal or physical attack.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government described their long and fruitful relationship with the charity, stating “We’ve had a relationship with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation for a while and we identified an opportunity to fund their valuable work. This wasn’t a bid process, but rather the recognition of the need for certain groups to receive extra support.”

s300_hmd_logo_white_space_large_960x640Responding to queries about government recognition of discrimination against people of alternative subcultures, they added “The fact that we are funding [the Foundation] alongside other charities shows that we do treat this kind of discrimination as a concern.

As Sajid Javid says in our press release, Holocaust Memorial Day is a time of the year that reminds us of what can happen if we sit back and let hatred grow without tackling it, and without thinking carefully about what kind of groups need extra support to help them raise awareness and to stand up to intolerance and prejudice.”

The other groups receiving funding are:

  • True Vision: the police reporting portal for hate crime. New funding will help encourage groups that face challenges in reporting hate crime including Sikh and Hindu communities and recent arrivals from Eastern Europe; True Vision will also work with National Churchwatch, an organisation which works to counter hate crime against the Christian community
  • The Traveller Movement: a charity that aims to improve reporting rates for hate crimes against the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
  • Show Racism the Red Card: a campaign to unite young people of different backgrounds using professional footballers and their clubs to educate against racism

Additional funding will go to National Hate Crime Awareness Week that takes place each October to develop the scope and depth of the programme and to encourage collaboration between anti-hate crime charities across the country.

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MUMU 2017: Still No Masterplan

k2-hire“Ladies and Gentlemen, KLF have now left the building”

Or so we thought. After much frenzied discussion of an appropriately chaotic YouTube clip, an “official” statement has been released. By released, of course, we mean someone happened to spot this poster whilst out for a walk in Hackney. That someone happened to be Billy Drummond’s manager, adding a suddenly discernible veneer of truth to what seemed to be a collection of “happens”.

Which likely means Britain’s strangest Justified and Ancient art-music-duo is due to return. What bearing could this reunion, of the weirdest dance-electronica-hiphop anarchists, have on Goths?
Well, the KLF have always been up there with Carter USM and Pop Will Eat Itself for me as those mad, fringe artists that nevertheless have a solid following in the Goth scene, and still guarantee a dancefloor success, whilst not even being close to wearing the G-tag – not even in a dismissive-denial status, such as the Sisters.

I reached out to veteran DJ Mister Vodka, generalissimo of Carpe Noctum gigs and club nights, who traces his legacy back to that cradle of Leeds Goth, Le Phono, and has been running live events for Goths and allied trades since 1999. When I put my observations to him, he said

“‘Music that Goths like’ forms a classic Venn diagram with ‘Music called Goth'”.

“Back then, remember, there wasn’t much in the way of goth clubs, so we tended to go to rock clubs and indie/alternative clubs, so had exposure to “music that makes us bounce around the dancefloor like idiots and spill our snakebites”.

There’s a lot of other stuff from that sort of era that broke into the collective goth consciousness (Therapy?, Prodigy, Levellers, Pulp, Suede, JAMC, Curve, Smiths, etc.) alongside the earlier equivalents of Depeche Mode, Bowie, Iggy, Adam Ant, Motorhead, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell … all of which were cool outsiders.”

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A gorgeous sign in a Newcastle drinking hole I saw just weeks ago.

It’s an exciting reminder of the fluid and flexible nature Goth first arose in, before self-appointed Elder-Police decided to lay down the obsidian tablets containing the commandments of What Is Goth. In doing so, we lose sight of the laudably challenging behaviour of the most critically acclaimed band of 1992 – winning a BRIT award – turning up to the ceremony with a crust-punk band in tow, firing blanks from an automatic weapon at the audience, and fucking off to delete their entire back catalogue.

The re-emergence of bands of this vintage, even bizarre if treasured anomalies like The JAMS, is an exciting link back to those heady, drunken days when everyone was aboard the last train to Trancentral, and nobody was arguing in YouTube comments threads.
The difficulty of defining Goth is one of its virtues, and its delightfully transgressive appreciation for music that seems to lack any relevance is wickedly ironic and amusing.

So come climb aboard these ice-cream vans and crank up the pyramid blaster. 2017 is the year to find out just what the fuck is going on.

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Whitby Goth Weekend: Winter 2016 Part Two

We’re riding hell for leather into our second set of reviews of Whitby Goth Weekend, Winter 2016, having covered Friday previously. What better way to sound the call to battle, than with veterans of 2015 – Chasing Dragons!

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Tank crushes microphones with her bare hands to relax

These metallers are aggressive, fun and very polished. They’re spearheaded by the very confident, very talented Tank, who has a voice like a cruise missile – heavy, deadly and powerful. The whole band have an infectious energy, crucial for getting a half-frozen audience at a blustery WGW into the action.

This author isn’t a metal fan by any easy definition of the term, yet there’s something very vital about this skilled lineup, who deftly move between heavy and light rhythms, all wrapped neatly around Tank’s staggering vocals. They draw out the fan of engrossing music in everyone – then scare them to death with howled and screamed vocals of pure passion.
They’ve won fans at the top echelons of this festival, and when you look about, you see there are even more in the rows and rows of tight-packed fans crowding the stage. Chasing Dragons have earned the respect of a lot of discerning punters, in a field crammed with competitors. Credit to them.


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Neil spots a smiling Goth, and demands his five quid

Truly delivering to the fans, next is a welcome visit from an equally veteran outfit, Children on Stun. These boys rock that Nineties sound something wicked, and it’s a delight to have them perform what is a relatively new gig so soon after their 2015 reunion.  But for Neil Ash, it’s like no time has been spent away. He wants to connect with the dedicated fans that follow his band like a religion, and from the sounds of it, he’s still connecting six or eight rows back! A vocalist with a wireless microphone is like a kite without a string.

Ash is brimming with passion for this gig, and his exuberance is exciting, for all it’s ironic a a Goth festival. He never forgets that though, and on some songs he utterly bears his soul and pours real, hard emotion into every lyric. The band’s newer songs can be slower and very raw, a hazard of their joint tragedy in recent years.

Even so, there is a mesmeric two-way relationship between band and fan. They chant the words they know, surge along to the beat, and deliver thunderous applause as Ash expertly weaves a close-knit community around them all. Children on Stun have given us some classic, hypnotic goth rock tunes that regularly rock nightclub dancefloors, and live they are no exception. Grab the chance to see these guys if you can.


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Anne-Marie here stressing to other singers the importance of taking some time out for yourselves.

We’re really escalating the threat tonight though. If you like your Goth classic, look no further than West Yorkshire of course – and the irrepressible, unstoppable, Skeletal Family. Incapable of ever calling it a day, Anne-Marie Hurst and her merry men continue to remind us they were on the bleeding edge of this thing we called Goth back in the day – and also, they aren’t willing to rest on their laurels!

The band start like they’re fired from a gun, crashing in effortlessly and stylishly. They really are red-hot professionals, and it’s a bloody joy to see them laying down polished ebony goth-rock class*. Anne-Marie remains a commanding and tantalizing singer, powerful and sly in equal measure as she teases and roars her way through the songs.

And what songs they are – it’s a credit to bands like Skeletal Family that Goth music remains so invested in its past. Rolled out, punched up and belted out to a new wave of fans, the band effortlessly fills the cavernous Spa with beautiful live takes on beloved classics.
Of course, it can’t all be black roses and sweetness – the band have some technical issues, arriving and departing the stage in a jarring silence. And occasionally, I struggle to hear Anne-Marie in the mix, other times hearing her signature banshee wail loud and clear. The Spa is no forgiver of imperfect sound balancing, and perhaps this was one of those times.

But I can’t rob them of the strength of their performance, built on cruel menace and sassy style, played to an absolutely rammed hall of besotted fans.


* I have written this exactly as I noted it down at the time.

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“Anyone fancy a guitar? Going (definitely not) cheap, one less-than-careful owner…!”

And so, faithful friend, we come to the last door on this dark advent calendar, and lurking behind is a fearsome Frankenstein’s monster of The Mission, circa 1986 and The Mission, circa 2016. Which is which? Let’s delve in and find out.

Hussey and his heavies have just finished terrorizing the English speaking world, and will go on to conquer the rest of the planet after Whitby. The dust has been well and truly shaken off, and a polished performing outfit stand before us, led by Goth’s leading silver fox. This gig is a high-water mark for their tour promoting Another Fall From Grace, their new album, and it’s going to be interesting to see what they sound like live…
Well one thing’s for sure, they aren’t The Sisters. The band deliver Garden of Delight, a version many of us have heard Hussey’s old bandmates demo years and years before – but The Mission’s version is a snarled, angry remastering that slams the door on any Eldritchian comparisons.

Which is no bad thing of course. Indeed, Hussey demonstrates human traits of compassion when a missing child – no, really! – is reported to venue staff. The Mission’s main man orders the lights turned up until the trespassing toddler is retrieved. All’s well that ends weird!

Returning to the scene of the crime, we are rewarded with His Master’s Guitar. That classic twelve-string strum defined a brace of Mission albums, and Hussey still has it in spades. At the back of my ear, however, I can hear the sound dissolving into the hungry corners of this intimidating venue. Sound techs will struggle in vain against this voracious beast. To calm tempers, the talented Evi Vine adds a Regan-esque ethereal aura that glitters against the goth-rock gloom of The Mission.

Oddly enough, the audience hasn’t fully engaged beyond the hardcore at the front. Even Wayne observes how relatively collected the crowd has become, and even the intro to Severina doesn’t seem to stir a shout as I would have expected. But, then, a defiant tower of the dedicated rises, defiant, and I wonder if venue security might be somewhat to blame for matters…

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Simon’s mic stand lost out in the eternal war with his omnipresent hat

Maybe. Tower of Strength suddenly hits home with a hammerblow of rock and roll. Every instrument is a perfectly balanced and perceived sound, whirlpooling around a roaring Hussey at the heart of it all.
Now the crowd are fully complicit, waving banners and stacking one another like it’s the mid-Eighties. Another Fall From Grace is a beautiful remastering of that classic Mission sound, but for these hardcore, long-term fans, they really want to hear those tunes they heard, brand new, all that time ago…

The Mission depart the stage just long enough before Wayne and Evi return, to deliver a few stripped-down acoustic tracks for the audience. It’s a gamble, to depart from a blazing rock-and-roll gig to a slow-burn set, but after a few gentle and enjoyable anthems, the entire band return with gusto.
Again, my memory is deserting me, and my notes are dissolving into wine-soaked nonsense. I’ve written “A storming version of Blown Away”, and then the band depart and return for a record third encore. I noted it was half-midnight, with no signs of this gig slowing down. I noted down “Never Longer Than Forever, that quirky holiday tune!” and then I just tailed off. I have a vague, brightly-lit memory of Wayne Hussey hurtling about the stage, and a sea of people rising and falling like a mad tide.

It was the kind of gig that blended effortlessly into a bizarre waking dream. The Mission delivered a first-class, knockout show that seemed to be as much fun for the band as it was for their delirious and devoted fans. Simon Hinkler, whose dry mini-blogs on tour with the band have been a source of delight, later confirmed he found WGW one of his favourite gigs – out of a worldwide tour!

miss3

“Down in front!” Said nobody.

Such high praise is a testament to the unique experience of catching your favourite band at Whitby Goth Weekend. It’s a beacon of excitement in a disintegrating live music world. Support your bands by attending festivals, and they’ll reward you with a blinding show.

 

 

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Whitby Goth Weekend: Winter 2016 Part One

Winter is here! Well, not Ned Stark beheading winter, but instead the bracing forty-mile-an-hour winds of winter in Whitby, that ruin perfectly crimped and backcombed hair.

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Kitty: “OWWww he’s put it on my foot!”

Shelter instead in the light and noise of the Spa. The real beating heart of Whitby Goth Weekend is the live music. And we are moving supersonic from the get-go, with the very lively Kitty In A Casket!
Their lead singer – Kitty – is constantly mobile, a supercharged kick-ass vocalist with an amazingly impressive range. The whole band are truly excited to be here, and that really communicates well to a sizable and attentive crowd at the opening of WGW Winter 2016. Even Marc on upright bass is magnetic, which can be difficult with an instrument larger than you!

The festival often kicks off with an alternative band of broad appeal, and it’s paying off – a big crowd are really getting into the energy that these German rockers are pouring into the dangerously big Spa.
At one point, singer Kitty excitedly describes one energetic song as a great one “to run to”. Bloody Health Goths, they get everywhere! But seriously, it’s a superb start to WGW from this band of infinite capacity.

A firm favourite next, the original Black Sheep of a whole dark flock! Manuskript remain one of the most amusing, active and entertaining Goth bands, with a very respectable history of performances behind  them. They have a crowd of dedicated fans before them,  and set out to convert the entire Spa to their madcap cult!  Mike, the vocalist,  is his usual charismatic self, all giggles and banter with the audience. Other times, he’s mercilessly pranking his comrades on stage, draping banners over the supremely talented  Tim Chandler as he punishes his synth in style.

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Mike is distraught that Tim has used all the black hair dye. AGAIN.

A high point is their anthem PROTECT AND SURVIVE, machine-gun drums backing a thumping good slice of heavy goth style. The crowd naturally bellows its approval for this cherished favourite.
Visually, the band are backed by slick, funny and engaging projections. It all adds up to Manuskript’s brilliant stage presence, and their infectious, engaging music. Considering they’d played a sneaky secret gig the night before, the band were possibly even more honed and polished, all warmed up… or possibly pissed up?

An instantly recognizable silhouette cuts through the smoke and light. Nobody could fail to recognize the Feathery Crown Prince of psychedelic goth nonsense, especially not with his gleaming codpiece and heaving (fake) bosom! The original Twenty-First Century Boy (Toy), Martin Degville commits assault on our ears with Sigue Sigue Sputnik (Electronic) and we end up having a riotous time enjoying it.

sss1

All together now! ‘At the Copa, Copa-cabana!’

He’s respectful too, amidst the madness, and rocks out an energetic take on Gene Genie, “for David, a dear friend no longer with us”. I adore a good tribute, and Degville has delivered a fitting and frenetic interpretation.
Otherwise, the order of the day is chaos! He’s a strutting, posturing leopard-skin predator, a career of rock’n’roll excess that’s just polished his performance to a high shine. SSS-Electric is comprised of a band of beautiful and barmy performers who drive that classic sound forward into the future, a future that Degville drunkenly tried to design all that time ago. The result is an absolute tsunami of sound, sending thudding ripples through the hungry maw of the Pavilion… and above it all, supple and powerful even today, the voice of the man himself, either howling hits or flirting furiously!

Anticipation, by now, is at fever pitch, and our headliners are maestros of manipulation. They arrive fashionably late, escorted by an honour guard of beautiful women, to the unmistakable anthem of Title Music to A Clockwork Orange, the violent genesis of so much electronic music – including that of the legendary Heaven 17. Any illusions of this being a pop band are soundly dispelled by Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory, outfitted in black, masked and swathed in dry ice. Even as the eerie electronic dystopia dies away, the band immediately unleash a more sombre number, truly in keeping with our po-faced audience.

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A furious Martyn Ware realizes there’s no mobile signal in the Spa…

Of course it can’t last, and soon the masks drop, and the two men are consummate showmen. They banter outrageously with one another, visible evidence of a long and fulfilling partnership – and that mutual appreciation spills over to the heaving crowd, who are quickly bewitched by these synth-wielding wizards. Ware states, quite matter-of-fact, “We love playing here”, and the audience roars in appreciation. It’s incredible how they weave a small intimate performance despite playing to the utterly packed out Spa.

That never feels more true than when the boys duet on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – aided only by a muted and ominous soundtrack from their female synth player. Their voices are incredible, absolute powerhouses, and without the usual cacophony of other sounds, they entrance you with a spellbinding, simple yet utterly effective performance.

Yet it’s only one side of the coin, and the band effortlessly flip it to deliver a roof-raising version of their number one hit, “Temptation”. Their backing singers especially deliver with gusto, even drowning out the raw enthusiasm of an ecstatic crowd and even us cynical old hands stage-side, who are all hollering along! This is absolutely the pinnacle of a first class live experience and it’s a rare pleasure to be right in the thick of it.

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Glenn Gregory on his way to hang some curtains with that fetching pole

Ware and Gregory pay homage to Bowie as well, with a cover of “Boys Keep Swinging” that’s upbeat and exciting and truly fitting, delivered by artists who truly recognize and can deliver Bowie’s legacy. Their own murky history gets a look in as well, as the boys’ banter seems to overspill and Ware quips “I’m going back to Phil – he’d never treat me this way!”
To widespread laughter, the band them segue perfectly into “Being Boiled”, the first Human League single written by Ware with Phil Oakey in ’78.

David Bowie reportedly described this song as “the future of pop music”, and on such high praise, we draw a curtain over the first night of Whitby Goth Weekend, November 2016. Tune in soon for our review of Saturday 5th November 2016, leading up to the mighty Mission!

My deepest thanks as always to the daring ‘togs of WGW, always risking life, limb and sobriety at the very front of the crowd – Mel Butler Photography and Bob Slassor Photography. Their images are used with pride here and on the official WGW sites.

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The Goth in the North

We have awoken today to a populist and conservative US President (elect) in an America engaged in a long-stare with resurgent Russia, whilst Britain thrashes through post-industrial collapse in the iron grip of an implacable woman. You could be forgiven for thinking it was 1988 again. So, I expect great things from bands with drum machines…!

In more local affairs, The Blogging Goth has spent an exhaustive few weeks hurtling around the North of England. First off, I was – appropriately enough – speaking at Manchester Gothic , the premier public-academic conference on Gothic studies, with their theme of The Gothic North. I have covered the three previous Conferences, and was well aware of the highly professional arena I was stepping into!

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Tim Sinister, The Blogging Goth, at Manchester  Gothic 2016

Nevertheless, being public orientated allowed me – a mere BA – to join far more qualified and experienced individuals, and permitted me to hold forth on a topic close to my (black heart); my presentation was entitled Dark Satanic Music: Gothic Sound, Subculture and the North of England.

I am beholden to Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Centre for Gothic Studies, for graciously inviting me to speak, and I am more than happy to let them do the reporting of the conference for once! Please absorb the highlights of all the speakers that day, as I did my best to do.


Time for a very quiet Halloween then, as I and the rest of the Goth (not Gothic!) community geared up for the second big event of our black calendar, Whitby Goth Weekend Winter! Running across 4th-5th November, and a few days either side, this was my third installment of the long-running alternative music festival as an official Press Officer.

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Unsanctioned journalists are thrown off the swing bridge at high tide

As grandiose as that sounds, it means a lot of running around after serviceable WiFi signal in the most isolated town in a particularly desolate – if beautiful – corner of Northern England (see that connection again?). Oh, I held a door open for Wayne Hussey at one point, but the bands are usually there to get the gig done, not chinwag overmuch with bloggers and the like.

So, I have a handful of drunken notes to try and translate into serviceable reviews, which will come soon. The short answer is, of course, another banner year of Goth music. The Saturday night especially saw a lineup of quality classic Goth culminating in a mammoth show by Hussey and The Mission. There was also a ridiculous amount of drinking, clubbing, socialising, shopping and sleeping like the dead.
WGW is a full-spectrum experience, and I strive so hard to try and tell people about the aspects of the festival the conventional media doesn’t see, when they’re traipsing around old town photographing people who don’t even come to the live event. So watch this space for my review of WGW Winter 2016!


No rest for the wicked, or the dead, it seems. On Wednesday 16th November, I’ll be pretending to be an expert again, and joining a select few to discuss the History of Goth Capital itself, Leeds. Just one panel in a bulging itinerary of events aimed at celebrating the proud home of UK Goth – even when the Batcave, Slimelight and all Camden have been gentrified to dust.

goth-city16I might even stay in Leeds until Saturday 19th, when The Sisters of Murphy tear up the joint like it’s 1985 again. That should tide me over until Saturday 26th November, when Eldritch’s Real Thing brings a brief UK tour to an end in the City of Steel, in the original People’s Republic.

An exciting few weeks keeping the black heart pumping in the North. As I said time and again in my presentation in Manchester, the North has always been the spiritual and psychological home of Goth, regardless of what clubs started what bands, and what shops were open in (North) London.
Goth ain’t dead, it’s just put big light out! See you somewhere along the way…

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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…

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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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