So when Carlos invited me to write some reviews, I started off thinking I was going to do a traditional type thing, choosing a record and reviewing it. I began with huge excitement writing up a review of Jean-Michel Jarre’s new lp “Electronica” which featured collaborations with such electronica pioneers as Vince Clarke, Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream), Sebastien Tellier, Gary Numan amongst other such luminaries. Not only that, but it was a 2 volume opus harking back to the quality of Equinoxe and Oxygene. However, I got a bit bogged down in trying to describe each track in the style of an experienced music reviewer/columnist and found I couldn’t really find enough adjectives or comparisons to use – and my referencing of other bands isn’t particularly good either. I just like what I like, because it sounds nice or excites my ears.
And so, we find ourselves at this point. You are reading this, expecting some long boring old review comparing Jean-Michel Jarre to some solid old oak trees, dependable, been around for ages, growing old gracefully – and I’m afraid I’m going to let you down. All I can say is that as I was listening to it, I began thinking how brilliant Oxygene and Equinoxe were/are, and how Electronica really reminds me of them. And then he went and announced a world tour – so off I went to the 02 Arena in London in October to see him. Truly brilliant musically and visually, it was a great show – I would say quite light entertainment really, plus we also were treated to a sneak peak of Oxygene 17 from the latest addition to those disques – celebrating its 30th Anniversary.
So then I took delivery of the third part of Oxygene the other week, and everything comes full circle.
It’s been a strange year musically for me really as a fan. All the gigs I’ve been to have been nostalgia trips, bands reunified or celebrating some sort of anniversary or other. I’ll tell you more about all that in later posts, but interestingly the night after I was watching Jean-Michel Jarre at the 02 Arena, on the Friday, on the Saturday I was at the 02 Shepherds Bush Empire watching The Mission. (You will note that 02 seem to have acquired most of London’s larger venues and we can’t escape the corporate sell-a-thon).
Poles apart stylistically but tethered to my personal musical loves. The Mission were the second band I ever saw live (the first was The Pogues in Southampton 1987 on the ‘If I should Fall From Grace with God’ tour – oh Kirsty MacColl how I miss you). The Mission I saw originally at the London Astoria in 1987 and then again during their residency there in March 1988 on the Children Play tour. I remember the first time, bouncing down into the mosh pit in my flowing paisley shirt, and falling down immediately in the melee but being picked up by the friendly eskimos. The gig then was fast, loud, passionate, bombastic, filled with ego and wine. It completely switched my focus from stuff like Jean Michel-Jarre and poppy folk like the Pogues and routed me in a different direction from then on – I would explore all types and style of music to find something that really grabbed my attention.
I love the album “Children”. I think it was their finest record although everyone else seems to think Carved in Sand is better and that Butterfly on a wheel is the best Mission song. I disagree – It’s all about Beyond the Pale and Tower of Strength for me, as well as 1969/Garden of delight. Songs that literally carried you aloft and raised your spirits.
Well, until they went and released “Another fall from Grace” this year. I contributed via their pledgemusic campaign so got hold of the deluxe cd version, (the cd album, and instrumental version of the album and a dvd of rare live footage from their support slot with U2 in Leeds 1988 or thereabouts. The live footage is pretty rubbish quality but it’s interesting to see the band in their pomp.
Anyway – the actual lp is stunningly good. It harks back to “God’s own medicine”, and has the pomp of “Children”. Also featuring original members Wayne Hussey, Simon Hinkler and Craig Adams it takes me back to the excitement I felt when I first heard their music on the “Serpents Kiss” 7 inch single. Another fall from grace, also gets better with each listen. For example, it took me about 5 listens to fall in love with “Phantom Pain”. I skipped that track the first time, but now can’t get enough of it.
So you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that when they bounded on stage at Shepherds Bush for their 30th Anniversary tour – I was completely taken aback by how good they sounded, albeit older and greyer and less hair. I felt I was back there in 1987/88 – feeling the same feelings, loving the warmth and friendliness of the crowd, the inclusivity of it all. Utterly marvellous. I really recommend the new lp. Forget about the instrumental version and the dvd which are a bit pointless to be honest – nice to have, but pointless.
So there you go – a first glimpse into my world. I’m seeing Adam Ant this coming Sunday for the second time this year (30th anniversary of Kings of the Wild Frontier”) so I’ll let you know how that goes.
Rob Boyd – 14th December 2016
PS – Gary Numan also contributed to The Mission‘s LP