fri 19/08/2022

The Mission & Fields of the Nephilim, O2 Academy, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

The Mission & Fields of the Nephilim, O2 Academy, Birmingham

The Mission & Fields of the Nephilim, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Goth roadshow continues search for lost hedonism of the Seventies

The Mish in 2013: Goth no more?

It’s panto time in the UK and what better way to get into the spirit than the Goth Christmas Roadshow that is The Mission and Fields of the Nephilim? Here are two bands who were part of the goth scene that sprang forth in the second half of the Eighties in black cowboy hats and blacker shades, with a mission to move things away from post-punk austerity and back towards Seventies excess.

In the Eighties, Fields of the Nephilim (pictured below in their heyday) adopted a stage show that included industrial volumes of dry ice and the fierce strobe lights. The music was a loud dirge and Carl McCoy’s singing style so deep and incoherent (aided by a fair bit of reverb, it has to be said) it sounded like a very unhappy bear with constipation. In 2013, precious little seems to have changed.

Uber-fans characterised each gig with human pyramids, gargantuan quantities of confetti and a stench of patchouli oilWe were treated to the likes of “Moonchild”, from the 1988 album The Nephilim, and 1989’s “Psychonaut”. But the lack of variety in their tunes meant that, with the amount of effects pedals and distortion being used, they could quite easily have just been playing the same track over and over. The crowd, however, lapped it up and joined in with gusto. There were plenty of arms getting waved around in the air, in a manner that suggested a demented Kate Bush, and a few blokes with a good sense of balance climbed up on the shoulders of their mates. In fact, the crowd were so appreciative that despite being the support band, the Neff ended up playing an encore.

The Mission’s Wayne Hussey and bassist Craig Adams both played previously with super Goths, the Sisters of Mercy. The Mission, however, have moved on from their gothy, early days of 1986. These seemed to involve a lot of touring around the UK, followed by a group of uber-fans, called the Eskimos, who characterised each gig with human pyramids, gargantuan quantities of confetti and a stench of patchouli oil that was strong enough to make your eyes smart. Original guitarist, Simon Hinkler, may have rejoined the band, but this hasn’t resulted in any comfortable sitting-back and just playing the old hits. The Mission are presently touring their first proper album since 2007’s God is a Bullet. It's called The Brightest Light, and they even opened with the bluesy “Black Cat Bone” from it, later playing their tribute to Marianne Faithful, “The Girl in a Fur Skin Rug”.

They did, however, also play plenty of crowd-pleasers. Early tunes like 1987’s “Severina” and “Wasteland” sent some in the audience into more Bush arm-waving hysteria, and hits like “Beyond the Pale” and “Butterfly on a Wheel” had plenty cutting a rug. However, it was the encore of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane”, Wayne Hussey’s love song to Cult frontman Ian Astbury, “Blood Brother”, and the 1990 single “Deliverance” that really got the majority of the crowd moving around. All tunes that you’d be hard pushed to describe as being “goth”.

The Mission clearly decided that they still hadn’t had enough and returned to the stage for a final farewell of “Like a Child Again”, which mutated into “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, before the band finally put down their instruments and bassist, Craig Adams had to be carried off by a roadie because he was so wasted. The Mission’s search for the heart of rock ‘n’ roll goes on, it seems.

Overleaf: watch a nearly fifty minute video interview with Wayne Hussey of The Mission

There were plenty of arms getting waved around in the air, in a manner that suggested a demented Kate Bush

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Were you at the same gig that I went to?! The Nephs were great & no, the tunes did not all sound the same, & yes, the lyrics & sound were very clear. May I suggest that you were not familiar enough with their material? And for your information, they headlined the gig last night & so were not the support.....

I agree that the reviewer may not have been as familiar with the material as you, as I also had the same difficulty in distinguishing the tunes and lyrics myself. You are also quite right in that this was a joint headline tour, with the Nephilim headlining in London. The reviewer may also want to check out Like A Child Again as this does not sound at all like Tower Of Strength which did morph into YNWA.

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