Photo by Jahvo Joža

After two decades, finally here: The Mission live at Tavastia, Helsinki 22.05.

Author John Wins - 24.5.2023

For those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, bands that mixed post-punk with alternative rock were the soundtrack of the gothic movement, influencing a huge number of other artists and conquering fans all over the world. A few decades later, more precisely in Helsinki at the legendary Tavastia, the English band The Mission still shows that they are still a reference in style.

Five minutes late, the show starts at 20:35 with an instrumental intro, and after a few more minutes it’s possible to see the four musicians on stage. “Beyond the Pale” is the first gothic sample of the night, although Craig Adams’ bass still sounds a little off in the audio mix compared to the other instruments.

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In the next two tracks, “Hands Across the Ocean” and the classic “Severina”, the sound was already normalized, then it was possible to clearly hear the familiar timbre of vocalist Wayne Hussey and Simon Hinkler’s guitars. At the end of the first three tracks of the night, the singer commented on the fact that the show has been postponed three times since the original date of April 2020, which only made even bigger the gap of 23 years since the last time the band played in Finland.

“Met-Amor-Phosis” features more low vocals of Wayne, and it was possible to see many fans singing the verses. At the end, the vocalist asked if anyone recognized the pre-recorded backing vocals, mentioning that they were from a very dear and lovely friend (the song was recorded in partnership with Ville Valo, an iconic Finnish musician). On “Garden of Delight” drummer Alex Baum, who joined the band last year, forms an interesting partnership with Craig’s bass. In “Stay With Me” it is charming to observe how Hussey and Hinkler complement each other with their guitars.

The catchy instrumental of “Like a Child Again” serves as a warm-up to the hypnotic vocal performance of “Afterglow”. “Are you having fun?” asks a happy Wayne with his well-known sunglasses. The answer is positive and unanimous.

“Never Again”, released ‘just’ over thirty years ago, still proves to be a vibrant song, making many young people dance in the corners of Tavastia as the lights change following to the beat of the music. As much as the tambourine in “Butterfly on a Wheel” is a classic part of the song, it’s strange not to see the drummer doing it live while a backing track does the job. It’s a shame such an iconic band doesn’t have a keyboardist on stage, but it’s not something that greatly interferes with the experience and quality of the show.

During “Wasteland”, the vocalist’s interaction with the audience is great, and it is possible to see many arms raised up from fans grateful for the gift of hearing a hymn. The last track before the encore is another hit, with the beautiful “Deliverance”, which brings a combo of special moments in the show, like Simon’s solo, Adams’ precise Rickenbacker, and the acapella vocal ending of the verses “Brother, sister, give me, give me”.

The first encore features a nostalgic sequence with the cadence of “Swoon”, the ambient style of “Belief” and the energy of “The Crystal Ocean”. Already during the second and final encore, the voice and guitar version of “Love Me To Death” is sublime, creating an unique connection between audience and artist, which prepares the show for its last act with “Tower of Strength”. Another timeless melody.

Even after almost 40 years since its start, The Mission continues to be a reference as a Gothic rock group. The band that inspired so many musicians, knew how to rejuvenate their fan base, because the venue was full of old fans, but also a whole new generation with their backcombed messy hair and strong dark eyeliner. After all those years Wayne’s poetry still resonates as the artistic fuel for their days and nights.