Massive Attack

Enormous Attack

Steel Yard, Bristol

1st Mar 2019

In the enormous custom-constructed arena of Steel Yard at Filton Airfield, the anticipation for Enormous Attack’s homecoming show was palpable. Their final Bristol gig had been headlining The Downs festival in 2016 in the pouring rain. This time, we had the luxury of a roof, as effectively as the pleasure of their enterprise. Although we waited, the DJ left the stage, generating way for crowd singalongs to Britney and Cher, a possibility to take pleasure in a false sense of safety by means of the nostalgia of the year of Mezzanine’s release, or perhaps the 1st of the band’s many morsels of meals for believed that evening.

Kicking off the show, the glare of orange light led not into an original, but a cover of The Velvet Underground’s I Discovered A Explanation. Enormous Attack favourite Risingson was the 1st original track, with iconic trip-hop beats to send the expectant mood into raptures: Robert Del Naja’s vocals were on kind, suggesting that any notion of “classic Enormous Attack” is not confined to earlier decades. Black Milk brilliantly showcased specific guest, Elizabeth Fraser of The Cocteau Twins, who later sang a heart-stopping rendition of Teardrop.

Not content with performing a predictable album playthrough, as some could have anticipated, the band interspersed their personal tracks with several covers, playing Bauhaus and The Remedy and then lead into the tracks that sampled them. The album’s chronology was also bypassed for the sake and strength of setlisting and to accommodate the covers. The atmosphere remained lively when Mezzanine was briefly rested, specially throughout a later rendition of Ultravox’s Rockwrok. A further standout was a version of Pete Seeger’s Exactly where Have All The Flowers Gone, Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals floating and lilting more than a lullaby-like backing.

Meanwhile there was a sharp visual juxtaposition, with pictures of injured and dying war victims shown on screen. Documentary maker, Adam Curtis had been recruited to produce these visuals, and they oozed an atmosphere of unease. Political slogans, factory workers, virtual cities, and – oddly adequate — owls, have been shown all through. When Tony Blair or Donald Trump appeared, a chorus of pantomime (or have been they?) boos followed. It was no uncomplicated nostalgia tour. Arena photographers have been placed at an uncommon distance, undoubtedly with the projections in thoughts.

At instances, it felt a small contrived. This was felt specially strongly when a cover of Avicii’s Levels was played as the penultimate track, accompanied by Nike adverts and a lot more military footage. That stated, the point was rammed household — we’re oblivious drones in a corporate military dystopia. On the other hand, Enormous Attack have been difficult the status quo for three decades, so why quit now? The climax of the show came with Angel, with dub legend, Horace Andy’s dancing echoed by a jubilant crowd. Blaring electric guitars and two drum kits making accurately album-faithful beats all through the show have been epitomised right here.

From time to time the volume could’ve been turned up a small: for a hometown show the sound felt a small underwhelming at points, but this was not a main situation. Far more problematic have been the infrastructure troubles: card payments have been not functioning, and the toilet queues seemed to extend for miles. Playing the entire of Mezzanine meant that a track like Exchange felt like small a lot more than an interval accompanied by a slideshow. On the other hand, that is arguably the impact the band have been going for, equally on the album and in the set.

The show ended with album finisher Group 4. With a conciliatory bow and clasped hands to thank the crowd, Del Naja and co. left the stage, followed by vibrant residence lights and a reassuring lack of faux-encore. As promised by the band in pre-show literature, this was not a Hollywood ending. On the other hand, the disconcerting aura remained. All round, Enormous Attack had managed to provide on their vision: a reimagined reside Mezzanine, accompanied by a potent visual practical experience. Fans will have been extremely a lot happy.


You can obtain Enormous Attack’s web-site right here. They are also on Twitter.

Thanks to Jonny Pinches for standing in at late notice to create this evaluation.

Photography by Michael Brumby. You can obtain his web-site right here.

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