Tuesday, August 26, 2003

So what about the Massive Attack gig in Bristol on Monday? Well I have to say that I had a fine time. We missed Lupine Howl, so the first entertainment we caught in strangely remodelled Queens Square was the sublime Martina Topley-Bird, who played a short but sweet set of songs, which came with more of a blues influence than her album prepared me for. The sun shined and the good people of Bristol, relaxed into the afternoon with a nod of the head and polite applause.

Next up were The Bees, who captured their eclectic sound to perfection, reggae, pop, 1970’s afro jazz it’s all in the mix. I think they made a decent impression on people without exactly burning down the house.

By the time Goldfrapp took to the stage, Queens Square was getting very full indeed and the queue at the beer tent was longer than the gap between Portishead albums! After being besotted with the 1st Goldfrapp album, it’s taken me a long time to warm to the more commercial sound of the 2nd album. It’s starting to happen for me, but I do wish that we could have had more of the marvellous, cinematic soundscapes, which initially brought the band to our attention.

Final support of the day came from The Streets, now I know that they have many fans and indeed they went down really well today, but I just don’t get it. Oh well.

So at 9:15 Massive Attack took to the stage in Bristol for the fist time since the run of gigs at the Anson Rooms, which marked the end of the Mezzanine tour. Expectation levels were high and if I’m honest I think that carried the band through a slightly patchy opening. Once they relaxed the multitude vocalists did their stuff to great effect. The on stage line changing for virtually every song, reminiscent of the changing formations of an American football team, constantly evolving but always in control. Never the most dynamic performers visually, they have taken to bombarding the audience with an incredible array of electronic information from a giant screen behind the band. It can be a touch overwhelming at times, but is a very clever move. The set was heavily weighted towards the last two albums but enough of the old hits were thrown in to keep everyone happy. For me the highlight was a storming version of Safe From Harm.

At the end of the show the band seemed to be genuinely moved by the reaction, I guess that after the events of the past few months they must have worried about the bands ability to carry on. Well they managed it and I think that everyone that turned up (around 19,000) had something good to remember from the day.

By way of contrast, we spent Saturday evening at a very enjoyable Velvet Underground evening at The Cube. Various singers doing their versions of great V.U. songs complemented some strange old TV and film footage of the band itself. Some brilliant moments along with some chaotic ones. A classic Cube night that once again teetered on the edge of collapse on several occasions, but in tue Cube style, won through in the end.


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