The Mission @ Baltimore Soundstage – September 6th 2023
The Mission @ Baltimore Soundstage – September 6th 2023

Live Review: The Mission + The Chameleons + Theatre of Hate @ Baltimore Soundstage – September 6th 2023

It’s been some time now since gothic rock stalwarts The Mission (also known here as The Mission UK) have played in North America, but they’ve finally returned for an extended month-and-a-half long run of dates which will take them across the entire US and to several stops in Canada. Joined by the recently-reformed Chameleons (reuniting singer and bassist Mark Burgess with guitarist Reg Smithies to form the core of the band) and post-punk veterans Theatre of Hate, the tour is the can’t-miss event of the year for many who grew up with 80s goth and post-punk as their lifeblood. The bands played the first night of their run in Baltimore at the Baltimore Soundstage last Wednesday night.

Theatre of Hate opened the evening, and while they are probably the least well-known of the three bands to American audiences, they were still met with a very positive reaction from the crowd. Singer and guitarist Kirk Brandon had suffered some health issues earlier in the year, but he seemed to be back strong and in good spirits as he led the band through an all-too-short set of classic tracks drawn largely from the group’s 1982 debut album Westworld (but featuring tracks from several other releases, including their much more recent 2016 release Kinshi, as well).

For many, the standout of the night was The Chameleons. Since the band’s early 2000s reunion imploded in animosity in 2003, Mark Burgess has worked to keep their music alive touring as ChameleonsVox (with the help of the band’s drummer John Lever up to his untimely death in 2017), and has toured the US several times in that guise. But there was still something special about seeing him finally reunited with Reg Smithies, with the interplay between the two forming the core of the band’s sound. Joined by two additional musicians who have worked with Burgess in recent years, guitarist Stephen Rice and drummer Chris Oliver, they played a set covering a number of classics from the three albums which made up the group’s original classic run. It was great to see Burgess and Smithies together again, and we can only hope that the reunion continues.

Then it was finally time for The Mission. With three original members – singer and guitarist Wayne Hussey, bassist Craig Adams, and guitarist Simon Hinkler – still forming the band’s core, it was inevitable that they’d retain their classic sound. While the band has a total of ten albums to their name at this point, they (perhaps wisely) stuck to songs from the first five of those, the ones that were released in the US and are best known to their audience here. Their set – made up of songs including “Garden of Delight,” “Severina,” “Wasteland,” and “Deliverance” – served to show just how important they were to the mid-80s and early-90s goth sound, and how well their music holds up even today.

The downside of a night with three great bands sharing the stage? All of them played shorter sets than we’d have liked to see. But in a world where touring has become expensive and difficult, especially for musicians from overseas, if that’s the price of getting them here then it’s well worth paying. Hopefully the tour is an overall success and they return again soon, together or separately – if their reception in Baltimore is any indication, there is definitely an audience here who still loves and appreciates all of them. If you’re a fan of any or all of these groups and this tour is coming to your town, be sure not to miss it.

PHOTOS © MATT CONDON

The Mission

The Chameleons

Theatre of Hate

The Mission setlist

Beyond the Pale
Hands Across the Ocean
Garden of Delight
Swoon
Naked and Savage
Severina
Like a Child Again

Afterglow
Never Again
Butterfly On a Wheel
Wasteland
Deliverance

Tower of Strength

The Chameleons setlist

Paper Tigers
A Person Isn’t Safe Anywhere These Days
Up the Down Escalator
Monkeyland
Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)

Soul in Isolation
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Swamp Thing
Second Skin

Theatre of Hate setlist

Judgement Hymn
Original Sin
Conquistador
Day of the Dog
My Own Invention

Incinerator
You Can’t Stop What’s Coming
Do You Believe in the West World
Propaganda