Tag: Massive Attack

Nothing to see here

A brief recap of a crap week.

It started well on Monday (yeah that surprised me too) with a good day being productive and positive, which was topped off by a better evening at the Massive Attack gig.

Tuesday was ok, and dinner with my parents to celebrate my Dad’s birthday was nice and then I went home, noticed a pain in my back at some point and…

And since then that’s been the story of my week. That pain turned out to be a pulled muscle that kept me awake for most of the next three nights and rendered any attempt to turn my head or shoulders into a sharp stabbing pain that throbbed most of the day.

So it was quite a nice change to wake up this morning with most of the movement returned and the possibility of leaving the house for the first time in days. Which I did, getting a haircut and heading to the shops to buy a couple of shirts.

Except, of course, a migraine decided to join the party.

On the whole it’s been a crap week and for the most part I’ve been grumpy and a bit maudlin (I’m crap at being ill, I do like to keep busy!). Roll on Monday.

Massive Attack

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.

Coming Soon

A few months ago I was asked to speak at a conference in Nottingham.

A few months ago I bought tickets for a couple of gigs, one in Manchester (Elbow), one in Glasgow (Massive Attack).

I didn’t really think about these things much until this week when I realised they were all coming up in the next month, all within the same two weeks. I travel down to Manchester on a Friday, back up the next day. Tuesday the next week finds me hopping on a plane down to East Midlands airport for a few nights in Nottingham, back up on the Friday, and then on the Monday evening following that I’m in Glasgow for the Massive Attack gig.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it.

I don’t think I’ll have much, if any, free time in Manchester as it will be largely a case of jumping off the train, checking in to the hotel, going to the gig, then maybe a wee wander in the morning and then back onto the train to head back to Scotland.

However, I may be able to get away for a couple of hours when I’m in Nottingham. I’m staying in Eastwood Hall, so if anyone has any suggestions of interesting places to go then let me know.

Should be a busy couple of weeks but I’m already looking forward to it, not only for the gigs, but the conference should be interesting as well as a new challenge for me. My presentation is on the rather loose topic of “blogging”, so I’ll be enlisting YOUR help, dear reader, at some point soon.

Desert Island Time Limit

Pick eight significant songs to take to your desert island, but you only have two days to come up with them, said Rob.

1. Angel by Massive Attack
The pounding bassline grabs you by throat whilst Horace Andy’s gentle falsetto sings of the unrequited love of a dark menace. My desert island will have a very loud sound system and immersing myself in this growling, heaving, throbbing track will provide both aggressive relief and calming breaths. It’s the paradox that this track offers that makes it a compulsive, repeat, listen for me.

2. The Other Side by David Gray
This one is all about the lyrics. Soft piano chords introduce a sad song, minor keys mirror the hope of a lost man, a man about to start a personal journey through which he remains unsure of his position “sick of hearing my own lies”.

3. A Day in the Life by The Beatles
The best track on one of the best albums (Sgt. Pepper) this track has everything that The Beatles were good at, the opening melancholy, the cheery reciting of a man making his way to work, and that huge building crescendo. The final multi-layered chord providing the tumultous close (barring the repeated nonsense that was recorded beyond the end of the LP, meaning those with auto-return arms on their record players would never hear it… it looped over and over if you let it).

4. Loveshack by the B52’s
The sun is setting on my desert island, me and the crabs have had a little too much home-made rum, so what better track to bung on, turn up and “get dowwwnnnn” to. The perfect hybrid of sunny, silly pop and good old fashioned rock. If YOU see a faded sign by the side of the road, keep on going. This loveshack is mine, baby!

5. Scottish Rain by The Silencers
A glorious love song that gently sweeps over you, this remains my favourite track of theirs, never failing to evoke memories and images from years gone. Even now, writing this silly little meme, a lump is forming in my throat. And whatever better way, as I lie baking under the harsh sun, to remember my homeland in all it’s hues and colours.

6. Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen
Determined to choose a track by my favourite ever band, it is somewhat troublesome given the depth of their catalogue. So I decided to plump for what they were best at, gloriously over the top pomp rock. From the opening harmonies to the slow build from guitar through the bass, the subtle handclaps and the rolling intro of the drums, this is a corker. Best still, as I’m all alone on the island I get to pick up a stick, spin, whirl, stomp my feet and “be Freddie” for 4 minutes and 16 seconds.

7. Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead
Still sends shivers up my spine. Thom Yorke’s soaring vocal, strummed guitar and the way this track builds made me realise that rock’n’roll wasn’t all about noise and pop music wasn’t always cheery. Still a favourite album, always a favourite track.

8. Blackbird by The Beatles
Such a simple song. So beautiful. I could listen to it all day.

Now, I’m supposed to “tag” two people with this… but I can’t be arsed. Sorry. Meme overkill.

Let me know if you pick up the baton.

Musical Meme

Don’t do these often but I’m lacking inspiration – via Lyle and Uborka

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
48.8 GB at time of writing (9217 songs to be precise).

2. The cd you last bought is:
Still waiting to be delivered! The Milk-Eyed Mender by Joanna Newsom.

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?
Sabotage by the Beastie Boys, all of 30 seconds ago (currently playing The Truth by Handsome Boy Modelling School).

4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you

    Telegraph Road – Dire Straits.
    Reminds me of family holidays in France when I ‘discovered’ Dire Straits early albums (on chrome tape no less!).
    Queen and The Soldier – Suzanne Vega.
    Because it’s a great great song.
    Teardrop – Massive Attack.
    Put it on, turn it up loud, close your eyes and float away.
    Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns ‘n’ Roses.
    First single I bought Louise “I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain”.
    Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters.
    Was from an album that I used to raise my spirits, I was looking to the sky to save me and it did.

Note: I’m surprised at how mainstream the above list is, truth is I listen to music in spurts, focussing my attention on a few albums at a time, then I move on. Very few songs every get to come back around (until I discovered MP3s and the ‘shuffle’ option that is!)

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?
Lyle.. no no he’s done it. The musicality that is Troubled Diva? Hmmm he’s not even finished his current project, I wouldn’t do that to him. Would Peter do it or just talk about doing it? (I’m hoping he does, what with his radio background) Hanni maybe? Would Caroline manage to NOT list a u2 track? Gosh, I dunno.

Off the beaten

Quick aside: What is the point of having your wedding list available on a website, when you can’t actually see, or find, a description of what the cryptic product code means? John Lewis I’m looking at you! I don’t know what COPPER DIAM B/C is, when I click on the link you handily provide, I get a message saying “No picture available for this product” and when I search the rest of your site I get nothing except curtain rods. Prize for the first person who can provide a LINK to this item on the John Lewis website (I know what it is now, but STILL can’t find a link!).

Anyway, after unsuccessfully trying to buy a wedding gift online last night, I decide to clear out the iPod and create some new playlists. First things first. If you are going to buy an iPod and intend to use it mainly for your commute or the odd hour or three here and there, I’d suggest you stick with an iPod Mini. The 10GB iPod Louise has has never ever been close to full, the most I ever managed to put on it was about 7GB. Sure I COULD fill it up but I have difficulty enough selecting music with only 4GB or so on it…

Back to the playlist; I decided, as it’s mainly me that uses it, I’d create a playlist of only tracks I liked, pulled from skim my entire library. I normally try and theme the playlists; rock, songs, chill etc.

Now, I’ve only got about 48GB of music, so it wouldn’t take THAT long, right? Wrong. The result was a playlist containing 239 tracks, which took me from 9.30pm to 1am to finish. It’s an eclectic mix from Weezer to Paul Simon to The Chemical Brothers to Stevie Wonder to Goldfrapp to Queen to GrandDaddy, with a little Aretha and Radiohead thrown in for good measure.

I was very happy with it and chucked it on the iPod (along with albums from Diplo, Tes, Lambchop, Massive Attack, Kings of Leon, Brian Wilson, and Franz Ferdinand). A grand total of 3.4GB. Told you I couldn’t fill it! Anyhoo, I was really looking forward to the commute this morning, wondering what combination of tracks the shuffle would come up with.

And then as I stood iPod in hand, just about to push play, a co-worker joined me on the platform. Typical.

T in the Park – so far

As promised here is a ‘quick’ recap of your feedback so far. The bands are listed in no particular order, with the acts I’ll be trying the hardest to catch in bold.

  • Ben Kweller – recommended by Gillian and Robyn
  • Thea Gilmore – tentatively recommended by David
  • Michael Franti – Gillian says “MUST see” and Mike confirms that he “should be excellent”
  • Spearhead – Another “MUST see” according to Gillian
  • Electric Six – “put on a great show” said Adrian
  • Mull Historical Society – recommended by Diamond Geezer, “must see” said Graybo, “Nice boys, good tunes” said Mike
  • Orbital – “oh God, yes, YES” climaxed Mike
  • Amy Winehouse – Mike suspects “that it might all come together on stage”
  • Alfie – recommended by Graybo, “definitely worth a punt” according to Mike
  • Glitterati – tentatively recommended by Adrian “They’re not bad”
  • Felix Da Housecat – recommended by Graybo, “could be terrific” said Mike
  • Basement Jaxx – recommended by ME and Mike
  • Carl CraigMike says to “expect plenty of musicality, variety and depth”
  • Tiga – “should be fun” said Mike
  • Mylo – “Hell yeah” said Mike
  • Chemical Brothers – “has to be done” says Mike and Rob “definitely wouldn’t miss” them
  • Groove Armada – are an “excellent live act” according to Mike and Rob agrees they “would probably be a lot of fun”
  • The Zutons – “Are really good” says Gillian
  • British Sea Power – like me, Mike has “heard good things from friends I trust”
  • Goldfrapp – “are pretty good live” according to Lyle, with Mike stating they are “definitely be one of my Must Sees”
  • Massive AttackLyle ponders “what can I say?” (in a MUST SEE kinda way), Mike remembers that “they were great when I saw them”
  • The Killers – Paulpod reckons I should “take the time to see them”
  • StellaStarr – again Paulpod reckons I should “take the time to see them”
  • The Rapture – are “brilliant live… have loads of energy” says Gillian

PHEW.

On Thursday and Friday I’ll be switching it around and giving you MY take on the acts appearing on the main stage, of course your comments are always welcomed, and hopefully by Saturday I’ll have managed to have invented a time travelling machine which will allow me to get to see all these great acts!

As a side note, special thanks to Mike (I’m not linking to him AGAIN). Your extensive comments are very much appreciated, and I’m formulating a proper way to thank you…

100th Window
Picked up the new Massive Attack album today. Hugely disappointing on a first listen, lacks the power of Mezzanine, or any of the wonderful melodies from either of the first two albums.. what a shame.