peteg's blog - noise - music - 2010 03 16 MassiveAttack

Massive Attack at the Sydney Opera House forecourt.

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mrak talked me into going to this, the tacked on second gig, after I passed on going with Jacob and Barb last night for pecuniary reasons. Cutely the tickets I got from the Opera House included a download of their new album Heligoland, whereas Ticketmaster wanted another $15 for their latterly-available ones. All I'm going to say is that it is less metallic than the preceding 100th Window and Danny the Dog soundtrack.

Martina Topley-Bird opened with an ethereal solo set. Awesome to see her.

As for the Massive, well yeah, I like their old stuff better than their new stuff, and I doubt there's anyone older than twenty who feels otherwise. The night was beautiful, the location perfect, but the music was missing something; as mrak observed, the canonical versions of their songs are on the albums, and production is a huge part of what they do. They rocked out a lot of their songs, with walls of sound that sometimes had the nuance that made them famous — Angel springs to mind — but often not. All of the vocalists were strong, including Martina on Teardrop and a fabulous Unfinished Sympathy featuring Deborah Miller. I expected them to close with Hymn of the Big Wheel, given the ambience and presence of Horrace Andy, but no. Mr Andy and the shrinking non-del Naja part of the group (now just Marshall) were criminally under-used. This group has concreted over its organic roots.

The stage was backed by an impressive display board running all sorts of things. Most incongruous to me was the monomaniacal focos on political issues, newspaper headlines, that sort of thing. I don't think of this band as political so much as personal, about the connections amongst people, not their divisions. Strangely, while their music casts long shadows over various parts of my life, I have never had much empathy for the core band members.

I saw these guys straight after they released Mezzanine back in 1998 with Jacob and many mutual friends. This gig just made me feel nostalgic.

Worth reading: a harsh-but-fair retrospective at the New Yorker. Not worth reading: Bernard Zuel in the Smage. Paranoia? Darkness? What about the first two albums?