When is a live album, not really a live album? That sounds a strange question to open a review of The Mission’s new Live album with until you look at where it was recorded. Generally a live album is recorded at one concert or more often, a run of concerts so they can pick the best bits from each to make the live album. The Mission though took a very different approach and recorded this album in…a recording studio. Yes technically they played live and had an audience of a dozen or so people, but it’s not what most people would think of as a normal live album, especially given that many bands play live as a group to record their studio albums.
What this approach did give the band is the freedom to tear up their usual set lists and play something different. So there’s no “Tower of strength” or “Deliverance” (two songs whose omission from a gig would certainly not go down well), and there are songs that are songs such as “Swoon” that are rarely played.
Playing in a recording studio means they had total control over the sound as well as the facilities to touch things up afterwards, so the audio is excellent quality.
The downside to the recording studio approach is there’s simply no atmosphere – the feeble cheering after each song just doesn’t do it, and the whole thing feels just too perfect and sterile. In a live show things go wrong – you get the odd wrong note or slightly off-key moment and while musicians don’t like mistakes, when there’s enough atmosphere that overrides the mistakes (and indeed the mistakes help show it’s live), but strip away the atmosphere and what’s the point of a live album
As a fan of The Mission I was looking forward to this album, and while it is a good album, it’s just slightly disappointing I’m afraid.
1. Black cat bone
2. Serpent’s kiss
3. Tyranny of secrets
5. Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest place
6. Grip on disease
8. Can’t see the ocean for the rain
9. Dance on glass
10. Butterfly on a wheel
1. Another fall from grace
3. Raising Cain
4. Only you & you alone
5. Garden of delight
7. Blood on the road
8. Like a child again
9. Everything but the squeal
10. Never’s longer than forever
11. Coming home
12. Swan song