Capturing The Mission live on their 2004 Breathen Tour, Lighting the Candles is a comprehensive 3 disc concert DVD/CD set that also serves up a historical perspective of the band, including a music video collection and a huge smattering of bonus materials. In fact, there's nearly 6 hours of DVD material here according to the set's packaging, with the concert only making up about 2 of those. Even the various menus contain new instrumentals recorded by Wayne Hussey specifically for this DVD. Meticulously assembled and packed to the brim with content, it's a stunning set that any Mission fan will likely find worthwhile if not essential.
Disc one is the main feature: a 17 song (not including the opening instrumental) concert film along with 7 Mission videos both classic and recent. The concert, filmed in Köln, Germany, is simply spectacular and does a fairly good job of balancing new tracks with older singles and album tracks. From the band's debut single, "Serpent's Kiss", to a beautiful rendition of Neverland's "Daddy's Going to Heaven Now" and a couple tracks from Aura, it's a career spanning set that really hits on most of the band's albums and lineups. The set also includes the new single "Breathe Me In". A particularly energetic "Deliverance" is a definite highlight, leaving the audience singing its chorus long enough for the credits to scroll before the band returns for the almost equally excellent closing rendition of "Tower of Strength". "Slave to Lust", a roaring rendition of "Hymn (For America)", and the lovely "Butterfly on a Wheel", while largely sticking to their original blueprints, are also quite memorable.
The lineup, while basically reverting to "Wayne Hussey plus band" after the semi-reunited band's breakup, is particularly tight and cohesive. It includes uber-guitarist-for-hire Rob Holliday (also known for his work with Gary Numan, The Creatures, Curve, The Prodigy, and his own band, Sulpher), bassist Rich Vernon, and drummer Steve Spring (another Curve alum). Their performances here are extremely strong and energetic, often sticking to the songs' album incarnations but pulling them off meticulously. In fact, many of the songs here sound more powerful than their respective album versions, and, while many bands at this point in their career suffer from "lagging tempo syndrome", The Mission sometimes rip through the material even faster and more aggressively than Hussey and company did in the studio a decade or two ago. All in all, it's an excellent concert that, despite the depth and variety of the bonus materials on this huge DVD set, is certainly worthy of being the feature here.
The music video section included on the first disc, albeit not entirely complete, will likely prove an excellent bonus for fans. A few of the music videos show the age of the source tapes in the form of some audio static and minor tracking errors, but the quality of the others is topnotch, "Butterfly on a Wheel" being a particularly visually stunning offering.
Disc two is packed to the brim with bonus features. There's a new studio track, "Light the Candles", backed by in-studio footage of Hussey. A somewhat informative biography is included, made up of a Wayne Hussey narrative accompanying a selection of career-spanning photos from his own collection. "A Day in the Life" is a short documentary that follows the band from earlier in the day through a soundcheck and show to the afterparty. There's an assemblage of rehearsal footage clips that seems to make a point of highlighting songs that weren't included in the DVD's setlist as well as separate fan interviews with Hussey and his current bandmates. There are also 4 Hussey solo performances, some acoustic and some backed by electronics.
Perhaps the main draw for fans on the second disc will be the bootleg section, a collection of 11 black and white concert recordings from Hussey's private VHS collection covering the beginning of the band through the current lineup. While the video and, to a much lesser extent, audio quality of this section is a bit shaky, it's a great collection of rare footage that also comes bundled with an optional Wayne Hussey commentary track. Highlights include a stunning piano version of "Like a Child Again", a lovely full-band acoustic version of "Dragonfly", and an acoustic performance of "Love Me To Death" amusingly preceded by a miffed Craig smashing the equipment and tossing his bass away, forcing Hussey to go solo.
There are moments where Hussey may have gotten a bit too ambitious, though. The discography section, for example, is presented in something of a short, bland documentary style with extremely tedious narration as opposed to a more useful interactive fact sheet. On the other hand, it's nicely backed by in-studio solo acoustic performance clips. The four Hussey solo tracks are also a bit over-edited, presenting a mish-mash of video clips and even audio from different gigs. Still, with the plethora of material here, a few minor gripes are very easily overlooked.
The set's third and final disc is a 70-minute live audio CD containing 13 tracks from numerous dates in April 2004 (excluding the show from which the main concert film is taken). Edited together to sound like one cohesive show, it's an excellent audio disc containing great renditions and a few songs that weren't featured in the concert film. Highlights, in addition to equally good versions of some of the songs that stood out on the DVD performance, include a particularly rollicking version of "Shades of Green" with a great finale and a strong "A Wing and a Prayer" prefaced by brief but amusing banter from Hussey.
As for technical specifications, the DVDs are Region 0 NTSC with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Disc one offers up a good array of audio options including PCM Stereo, Dolby 5.1, and DTS. The second disc only offers Dolby 2.0 and 5.1, although that's perfectly understandable considering the amount of bonus material and the quality/nature of its sources.
As a whole, The Mission's Lighting the Candles is arguably one of the best and most comprehensive concert DVD packages out there; a full two-hour concert complemented by a compilation of music videos, hours upon hours of bonus features, and a bonus live CD of additional material from other dates on the tour. In fact, it'll probably take at least three or four settings just to digest everything on the package's 3 discs. There's really a little something here for everyone, from longtime fans to newcomers, and it's an excellent set that's highly recommended.
| DVD Setlist: |
Intro: Deep Still Water
| CD tracklist: |
1. Crystal Ocean
The Mission website: www.themissionuk.com
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