Wayne Hussey reflects on his band’s live career in partnership with Entec

Maintaining solid relationships is key to the success and longevity of any production rental business. For west London-based supplier Entec Sound & Light, its alliance with influential Gothic rock band The Mission has remained strong since the birth of the outfit, just over 30 years ago.

Back in 1986, the working bond between the two parties was aided in no small way by the presence of Adam Stevenson, Entec’s Assistant Head of Lighting, who was then a newcomer to the world of live production, as The Mission’s founding front man and principal songwriter Wayne Hussey recalls: “Adam had joined Entec straight from school a year before we formed the band. His first tour was also our first. It consisted of three dates, one of which got cancelled due to litigation.

“He was about 17 or 18 and he arrived wearing a clean white shirt, which looked so out of place, but at the same time he was a breath of fresh air. We were all quite seasoned and a bit cynical, and there was young, innocent Adam coming along to make us smile.

“Adam had quite a high-pitched voice back in those days, resulting in the band and crew nicknaming him ’Squeak’! I don’t call him that anymore, of course, even though a lot of the guys still do. He stayed with us for a quite a few years on all our tours and festivals, travelling around the world and sharing our experiences, and there have been occasions over the last 10 years when he has operated the lighting for certain shows. I consider him to be a very good friend, first and foremost.”

In common with most start-up bands, The Mission’s live presentation was minimal on their initial tours, due to lack of finance. That changed as soon as their label, Phonogram (now part of Universal), allocated a workable budget with which to finance their World Crusade tour of 1987-88.

From the start, however, Hussey had both an eye for production and an appreciation of those who made a valuable contribution. “With anybody that I’ve worked with either in the recording studio or on tour, I like people to be able to express themselves in whichever capacity they’re in,” he explains.

“Phil Wiffen was onboard early on as our lighting designer – we brought him in from The Sisters Of Mercy – and, aided by the label’s finance, Phil had free rein to come up with bigger ideas and we would give our feedback, mostly based on what was affordable. That said, I’ve always known what I do and don’t like – in fact, I’ve always had an opinion about everything, and that includes all things creative.

“Whether it’s a record or a live show, I like to think we have delivered the best we can give within our means and, looking back, Entec really helped us step up a gear and create a good production as soon as we had some money to play with.”

ARCHED LEGACY

The Mission’s original and highly distinctive ‘arches’ custom lighting rig, designed by Phil Wiffen, manufactured by James Thomas Engineering and dressed by Hangman, was based on the cover artwork for the band’s début album, God’s Own Medicine, released in November 1986.

“It was such a powerful image that it was begging to be recreated for the stage,” Hussey comments. “We carried the arches across the UK, Europe and America, after which they remained in Entec’s warehouse for years and years, until Adam found them and we used them when the band got back together for the XXV tour in 2011. Entec’s team cleaned everything up and got them tour-worthy, and it was very appreciated by the audiences.”

The band’s most recent tour celebrated their 30th anniversary and demonstrated that they are as popular as ever. “Those years have flown by so fast. We’re in a very fortunate position to still be able to perform live and have a very loyal audience. None of us dreamed this was a remote possibility 30 years ago but here we are,” reflects Hussey.

“We’ve had plenty of ups and downs [The Mission has disbanded and reformed twice], but Entec and Adam have been permanent fixtures all the way through. Invariably, he’s my first port of call whenever we are preparing for a tour and, naturally, Noreen O’Riordan is also involved. I’m not going to go anywhere else; it wouldn’t make any sense. Entec are always fair with us on costs, the equipment is the best you can get and so is the service. They’re part of the family.

“Our manager, George Allen [of Anger Management] looks after the admin side of our production these days and he’s very good at his job. For the latest tour, I sat down with him to discuss our production budget and his idea was to spend most of the money on the two London shows. I didn’t agree because we were playing for six weeks around Europe, so why should London get special treatment?”

Hussey suggested seeking advice from Entec about furnishing a tourable design for similar cost. “We ended up with a bunch of LED lights [eight i-Pix Satellite wash lights], two backdrops – one featuring the cover artwork for our latest album, Another Fall From Grace, and the other being our generic Mission logo – and an Electro Kabuki drop halfway through the show. Our audiences always made their own confetti to throw in the air at specific points in some of the songs, so George had the idea to help them out on this tour by adding [Le Maitre CO2] confetti cannons.

He adds: “Obviously, I’m on stage so I don’t see any of this. The only time I’m affected by any of this is when it’s either too dark or too light!”

The Mission head back out on the road for another tour of the UK and Europe during May and June 2017, and will end the year as special guests on Alice Cooper’s UK arena tour, along with The Tubes.

The Mission