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The First Chapter (Live)

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Album Review

There were a lot worse ways of spending an evening than standing amidst a sea of black clad acolytes, marveling as the Mission reimagine their entire classic back catalog, one album at a time, across a delirious series of shows at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, in February and March 2008. And there are a lot worse ways of remembering the magic than picking up four CDs that recapture each evening with such electrifying clarity that, if you close your eyes, you're there again, standing astonished as the years peel back, the energy builds, and even Wayne Hussey seems to shed a couple of decades, to return as the Rock God he once was. The First Chapter was never so much an album as a gathering of singles, B-sides, and odds and ends recorded during the months before the Mish truly got their career off the ground. But it was a cohesive set regardless, and the first disc in the live series follows it flawlessly, the songs all as fresh as they used to be, and still pounding out the heartstopping highlights that so hallmarked the band as something special. "Naked and Savage," "Wake (RSVP)," and "Garden of Delight" are still as spellbinding as ever, and the mash of covers that were one of the band's lesser sung fortes are excellent, too — step this way for one of the best ever versions of "Tomorrow Never Knows," a scintillating "Like a Hurricane," and a breathless "Dancing Barefoot." Say what you like about this band, but they had great taste in music! Hussey's own liner notes declare that these four nights were "something I will never forget...a highlight of my 22 years with the Mission." The rest of us just say "22 years?" It all feels like yesterday.

The First Chapter (Live), The Mission
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