WAYNE HUSSEY + EVI VINE – BLACKMARKET VIP, HASTINGS 01.09.19
Hastings has got itself a name for attracting some well-known names from the punk, indie, and now the goth music scene, but inexplicably they don’t always catch the imagination of the locals. Blackmarket VIP is an intimate venue, located in George Street right in the centre of the quaint Old Town, and has played host to Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny & Theatre of Hate), Charlie Harper (UK Subs), Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) and Barry Hyde (The Futureheads) to mention a few and deserves more support from the residents of this musically diverse East Sussex town.
I was most surprised when I heard that goth rocker Wayne Hussey, he of The Mission and Sisters of Mercy fame would be paying a visit to Hastings and I jumped at the opportunity to catch him playing live on my doorstep in what was another coup for this venue. The ‘Salad Daze Tour’ comprises of 57 dates with this being the seventh night before he pops over the English Channel returning to these fair shores on October 22nd to play Southend and several more UK dates. I was aware that this was going to be a solo show but had no idea what the setlist would consist of. Would he dare to delve into the annals of the Sisters of Mercy back catalogue? I had been listening to their first album ‘First And Last And Always’ in preparation for tonight and as keen as I was for him to play a few tracks I had my doubts and was more expectant of a good spattering of music from his days as lead singer and songwriter with The Mission.
As I entered the venue it was clear that the ambience for tonight’s gig was going to be laid back as most of the crowd were sat on sofas and chairs, with standing room only by the time I arrived which was my preference anyway. It looked like we were going to get a decent turn out for a Sunday night.
First up was local Hastings resident Evi Vine providing the support tonight, ably assisted by Steven Hill on guitar. Evi was unknown to me, but from the first song in she certainly grabbed my attention as I was captivated by her voice. Honesty was the best policy and by announcing that she would be playing a sad song, as were they all, the audience knew what to expect. She wasn’t wrong as her haunting vocals put a shiver down my spine and any joy that I had previously felt soon fell by the wayside. Not that it was a bad thing as this performance hit a chord deep in my musical soul. Dressed in all black, she needn’t have worried about the trauma caused by having her long black hair cut prior to the big event and the stress of an imperfect fringe. I’m no expert when it comes to hair, but it looked fine to me. I detected some Cocteau Twins and Bauhaus influences in the sound which was confirmed when Evi complimented me on my ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ t-shirt after her set. She had joked that when standing towards the back of the stage that it made her feel like she had been drinking whisky due to it being slightly uneven. Evi was well received by the audience including her family and friends in the front row. Personally, I would say that ‘I am The Waves’ was my favourite track. She was also collecting for the Amazon Disaster and had raised £100 towards the cause the previous night.
After a short interlude it was time for the main act of the night to take to the stage. Even though Wayne Hussey is considerably older than when I last saw him play live in 1984 as guitarist with Sisters of Mercy, it was unmistakably him walking onto the stage adorning his Spanish riding hat. Playing solo Wayne would flit between guitars and keyboards. He opened up with ‘Absolution’ released by The Mission in 2007 and it wasn’t long before he was in his stride and enjoying good banter with the audience. I had seen a recent YouTube clip of Mr Hussey performing live with a Liverpool FC flag emblazoned over his keyboard and tonight was more of the same. He talked about it being a good year with his team winning the Champions League. I had been tempted to attend tonight’s gig in my Manchester City shirt, but I resisted for fear of upsetting him. He also talked about his life in Brazil where he now lives, the release of his autobiography, and an all-round good year for him, but he had suddenly been brought down to earth as he found himself urinating in a bottle tonight. When in Hastings……..! He then tucked into a bottle of red wine straight from the bottle. He had a moan about the lighting complaining that it was too dark, and it was like some sort of Goth gig. At this point a couple of lights were turned on and the night was warming up well.
There was no setlist and Wayne was choosing songs ad hoc. An audience request didn’t quite go to plan as he started off playing ‘Marian’ from his Sisters of Mercy days on the keyboard only to abandon it as he wasn’t feeling it. Thankfully he revisited it later in the set and played it on guitar which was one of the highlights of the evening for me.
The tour is also being used to promote his recently issued autobiography which unlike any reviewer worth his salt I had not read prior to tonight’s show. We were treated to a reading from it in which Wayne described meeting Andrew Eldritch for the first time prior to joining Sisters of Mercy and how he realised that it would be a difficult relationship given that he supported Manchester United. A light-hearted story took a sinister turn as an ex, obviously disgruntled, member of The Mission, bassist Andy Cousin, walked up to the stage and called a halt to proceedings mid-story pretty much accusing Wayne of being a liar. Not much else was said as there was a stand-off with Andy Cousin thankfully leaving/being asked to leave after being called “a p*ssed up ****” by Wayne and to be fair it was apparent that a lot of alcohol had been consumed. It will be interesting to read about the history behind this in Wayne’s next book. This put a dampener on the evening, and it was noticeable that it took a while for Wayne to regain his composure. Wayne also quipped about Hastings not being the same as the rest of the UK pointing out that maybe wasn’t a good thing and possibly something to do with being a Sunday night. Again, the crowd were a bit unsure about how to react to that and sadly it looked like Wayne’s night had been ruined by the incident. He appeared happier when he noticed a friendly face in the crowd of Louise the Oracle from up North whom he asked if he had ever been to Hastings before though that question was left unanswered. I sadly doubt that he will be returning after this experience.
Still Wayne carried on like the consummate professional he is and fair play to him he played a set lasting over two hours including the song he wants to be played at his funeral ‘Tower Of Strength.’ I felt that the atmosphere took an upturn when Evi was invited back onto the stage by Wayne for the last few songs with ‘Black Mountain Mist’ and ‘Severina’ being particularly enjoyable. They even sang a Happy Birthday duet for Stefan Gallup which reminded Wayne of Christmas!
The evening came to an end and Wayne made a sharp exit from the stage not looking in the mood for the planned after-show party, even after he had treated the audience to a mammoth set which the majority of the audience had enjoyed in spite of the rude interruption.
No setlist but songs from tonight’s gig included; ‘Absolution’; ‘Like A Child Again’; ‘Nothing Left Between Us’; ‘’Til The End Of Time’; ‘Dragonfly’; ‘Black Cat Bone’; ‘Mesmerised’; ‘Beyond The Pale’; ‘Wasteland’; ‘Personal Jesus’; ‘The Crystal Ocean’; ‘Tower Of Strength’; ‘Like A Hurricane’; ‘Black Mountain Mist’; ‘Bird Of Passage’; ‘Severina’; ‘Hurt’.
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