I was rather intrigued at the prospect of a solo set by a legendary alternative ‘star’ within the cosy environment of the Robin 2, and more so when I discovered that it was an all seated performance. I felt all grown up and nearly ordered wine at the bar rather than my customary Bank’s Original. The ‘star’ in question is Wayne Hussey, most notably of The Mission, and also former member of The Sisters Of Mercy. He is on the road for what seems like a gruelling tour in support of a new solo album bearing the ever so slightly gothic title of ‘Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades’. The Bilston date is one of the early dates before the tour spreads across the UK and Europe too.
There is no support act tonight, perhaps a shame as there was plenty of time to kill between doors opening and the only performance. However, moving swiftly on, Wayne Hussey takes to the stage just before 9pm with a swagger and a bottle of wine. He appears in good spirits as he ponders which of the assortment of instruments he will begin with. Eventually it is technology that kicks things into action, with his tablet providing a solid backing to Wayne’s rather unmistakable voice.
The last time I saw Mr Hussey sing was with The Mission on their recent co-headlining tour with Fields of the Nephilim. On that occasion I was not impressed with the performance in so many ways so I breathed a small sigh of relief when tonight Wayne’s voice sounded warm, rich and bang on the money.
Tonight’s set is driven in part by banter from the crowd who are making requests (some serious and some not I hope). As the set progresses we see Wayne swap semi acoustic guitar for electric piano, and most entertainingly a ukulele.
I have a small confession to make in that I have at best been a part time fan of The Mission and there are gaps in my collection and knowledge. However, a good Mish song never dies though neither do some thrive in their modified form. ‘Shelter from the Storm’ and ‘Like a Child Again’ were thoroughly immersive though ‘Wasteland’ in acoustic form lacked the power and verve of the original.
There were a selection of cover versions scattered throughout the set, including marvellous deliveries of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’, The Stones The Stones ‘As Tears Go By’ and a remarkable cover of ‘Martha’s Harbour’ by All About Eve.
However, there’s a clue in the title of the show, we are here to sample songs from Wayne’s new solo album ‘Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades’. A selection of songs from the album are delivered soulfully and confidently including a very smoky and jazzy number which I think is called ‘Madam G’. Other new numbers all feel well composed, moving and entirely enjoyable. Throughout the evening a relaxed Wayne looks to be enjoying himself tremendously which made the abrupt end to the set after just an hour rather surprising. Many audience members, like me, assumed this was an interval and headed to the bar in search of beverages and maybe a theatre style mini tub of ice cream. However, the raising of house lights and the packing up a gear on the stage quickly signalled that the show was indeed at an end. Disgruntled and teased, we left the venue. Great while it lasted.