Massive Attack

I finally got to see one of my all-time favourite bands earlier this week when Massive Attack played at the Roseland Ballroom in New York. I’ve been trying to see them live for pretty much the last decade, but since I’ve lived in the U.S. for more than 7 of the last 10 years, and this is the first time they’ve toured the U.S. in 9 years, it’s been tricky (pun intended).

Fortunately they didn’t disappoint, despite my massive (pun also intended) expectations… They’ve only produced 4 “proper” albums in 15 years (Blue Lines, Protection, Mezzanine and 100th Window) and they played material from all of them, in a set that lasted about 1.5 hours. However, I felt that they played more tracks from Mezzanine than any of the other albums, which was fine with me since it’s possibly my all-time favourite album. They even wheeled out some of the guest artists they’ve worked with over the years, such as the ageing Horace Andy, and Elizabeth Frazer, who used to be the vocalist for the Cocteau Twins, who I listened to when I was 14!

The lighting was effective and unusual, but also occasionally uncomfortably bright; they were lit mostly by a backdrop wall of powerful LEDs that rendered the band almost always in silhouette.

Massive Attack at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, 4 October 2006. (c) Tony Gill 2006

Massive Attack are quite political, and there were LED dot-matrix facts about the inequalities in the global economy etc. constantly scrolling along the base of the stage — although they were probably only visible to people at the front (or people over 6’6″ tall). Del Naja also mentioned the dire situation in Darfur at one point.

The event didn’t quite sell out, which surprised me (and I think also some ticket touts outside!), but Roseland is a pretty big venue, they played three consecutive nights, and tickets were on the pricey side at $50 + $8 TicketPleb gouge.

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