Wayne Hussey promised something special for the Tomorrow’s Ghosts festival last weekend - and delivered something simply magical.
The Mission frontman’s headlining slot was the only stop on his Salad Daze solo tour featuring backing group The Divine, made up of Susannah Simmons on violin, Liz Hanks on cello, Shaun Perry on double bass and Nick Hudson on piano, plus vocals from Evi Vine.
Opening on Saturday with a cover of Mazzy Star’s Look On Down From The Bridge, it was obviously going to be interesting. Songs from Wayne’s 40-year career followed but while the setlist was a treat in itself, it was Hudson's arrangements of the songs, which sounded as though they had always been scored for strings, that made the night special. It was easy to see why Wayne told the crowd his four days rehearsing with The Divine had been among the most musically satisfying of his life.
These versions of already moving numbers like Swan Song, Butterfly On A Wheel and Like a Child Again made them achingly beautiful and sparked emotional crowd singalongs. Wayne was clearly emotional himself at times.
He was also clearly enjoying himself and feeling at home. The banter flowed and he made a running joke of the “teabag” he had to wrap his poorly finger in to get it ready “for when I have to play guitar later on”.
The set wrapped up with a storming rendition of Tower of Strength before he was cheered back on for two encores. Wayne, who had just performed solo, called The Divine back for the very last song, saying he wanted to finish with them. And they covered Look On Down From The Bridge again as this legend ended his night the way it began and unfolded – all ego put aside in service of his art and respect for his peers and audience.
It was a similar story with the previous night’s headliners, Dutch darkwave icons Clan of Xymox, who owned the stage while coming across as utterly down to earth.
Kirstin Lavender of Absinthe Promotions put together another quality line-up for the bi-annual goth/alternative event in Whitby, North Yorks, including She Past Away, Inkubus Sukkubus, AlterRed, Grooving in Green and October Burns Black.
But Manchester punks Syd.31, Saturday’s opener, were my other real standout. With their Mad Max aesthetic and singer Jason Pearson stalking the stage – and through the crowd – with manic intensity, they were not there to “warm the night up” but say: ”BOOM! The night is ON!”
Eyes now turn to April, with something else special promised as The Damned headline. Visit tomorrowsghostsfestival.co.uk