Massive Attack

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Monday evening saw me heading into Glasgow, specifically to the O2 Academy, to indulge in some sonic overloading courtesy of Massive Attack, denizens of dub, trip hop and… whatever the kids are calling their brand of electronic noise.

I’ve always been a fan and can still remember, as I’m sure many others do, picking up a copy of their first album Blue Lines based on hearing the stunning single Unfinished Sympathy. Listening to it now it still remains fresh and unique, and whilst that has dulled somewhat in more recent offerings, they remain able to pull out something different, keeping them relative when other similar bands of the time have fallen away.

I have seen them play live at T in the Park many years ago, but this was the first time I’d get to hear a full set which, from doing a little digging online (setlist.fm is ace), I knew would feature some new tracks from their upcoming EP, due out next week.

Long time collaborator of the band, Martina Topley-Bird, provided the support and struggled a bit to get the crowd going, largely because of the stripped down nature of her set with just a percussionist to accompany her. That said she does have a stunning voice but it didn’t seem to fill the hall.

Massive Attack were, of course, at the other end of the hall filling scale, and it’s a testament to the sound mix that throughout the gig the textures of sound that the band use were evident.

And what a sound it is, I think I summed it up accurately on Twitter saying: “Bravo Massive Attack, great stuff, old songs reworked, new songs sound good. Loud, sonic, sexy, dirty, brooding, noisy, thumping gig.”

Some highlights from the gig include a soft, off-beat version of Teardrop which was OK but lacked the punch of the original, a new track which moved from a rote, repetitive refrain to a thumping, smashing cacophony, and the extended thrash that follows on from the hipswaying, lazily sexy sway of Safe from Harm.

Occasionally a little self-indulgent, yet still very driven, the band delivered a slick set, showcasing new tracks but not forgetting the tracks which got them to this point. Their political and socio viewpoints were evident but not forced and all in all it was well received by an appreciative audience. Can’t wait for the EP and the new album.