O2 Academy, Birmingham
The 3rd of my what I still might call techno forays, even I knowing my terminology grates against the full live Massive Attack experience, which hardly categorises as trip-hop either, now so vast and orchestral is the bass-heavy swell of sound. The tour is to promote the new material, audio and visual, with a lot of new, interspersed with what you might call greatest hits, maybe volume 2, so all the anthemic forbodings from Mezzanine and Heligoland were there, little from the first 2 albums, bar a Karmacoma, greeted with cheers by the heaving hall. Singers included Martina Topley-Bird, who gave good credit to Teardrop and the theme from Luther, and good old Horace Andy, a little dreadlocked gnome alongside Daddy G, but in as fine vibrato as ever. A striking new voice was Azukiel, spelling uncertain, striking also in stature an appearance, a welcome new find for their sound. Less so for me were Young Fathers, who, as well as being support band, did 2 songs as the 1st round of encores, from the forthcoming new material. Maybe I am not their demographic, scarcely fitting the bill for a young grandfather these days, but it seemed all bass reverb and shouting, getting dangerously close to that fabled note that causes reflex defaecation. Daddy G and Robert Del Naja came occasionally to the front, in truth leaving the band to take most of the attention, laptops and keyboards augmented by massive bass, gargantuan drums and a remarkable amount of guitar, passed through any number of filters and also played almost orthodoxly. Almost surprised me, did that.
Packed and partisan. Mostly attempting a look of greying cool, and even succeeding. It was disappointing how limited a view of the stage was available from the balcony: I would have like to have seen more of the graphics back projected. I was also less than taken with quite how traditionally jobs worthy the security were, enforcing the rules of the house around where and how you may stand within every inch of their uniforms.
It made me think..
that Massive Attack are worthy of a higher place at the table that is often given them. Their sound is/was almost unique, instantly recognisable and, you know, getting better. My gig of the year; a no-brainer this early on, but I can see it lasting and taking a lot to beat.