And this is why they call themselves Massive Attack. Because they do attack. And they sure as hell are massive. By the end of this two-and-a-half-plus-hours-long show there wasn’t a single soul in the old building of the Riviera Theatre (or “the Riv”, how locals call it) that wasn’t captured and disarmed. As intense as the concert was, with MA unloading everything they got into the crowd from double-barrel of drums sets and artillery of stroboscopes and heavy machine-gun fire of socio-political messages in the background, the people were ready to stick around for another hour or two. Or three. Or never leave. They sure didn’t want the band to leave the stage, basically forcing them into the second encore, or, in Daddy G‘s words “one more tune” – a surprising and always welcome “Karmacoma”. Actually, the entire show was filled with surprises. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Due to unexpected traffic and a closed highway exit I was disappointingly late, and only caught two last songs of Martina Topley-Bird‘s opening set. I hope she moves to US soon so I can go to her solo concert. She’s amazing. And so is her new record.
And then the trip began. MA opened with “United Snakes” (how very appropriate) and listing of every illegal drug known to mankind on the light panel behind them. And they are trying to say that they’re “not trip-hop”. Yeah, right. I don’t think 3D ever left the stage (unlike Daddy G, who kept diasppearing), this guy was all over the place, joined by Horace Andy, Martina Topley-Bird and Deborah Miller. The really big surprises started just past half of the show, when Martina Topley-Bird (her stage manners are something else – a mix between a mermaid and an alien) did the vocals on the absolutely insane version of “Teardrop”, which was even trippier than the original (I don’t know how it’s possible, but they did it). But they know what not to mess with. And “Angel” was practically untouched – just as awesome as we all remember it. So was “Safe From Harm” – another unexpected treat (for this song is my top 3 for Massive Attack and I don’t think they play it live that often, they sure didn’t last time I saw them). Deborah Miller‘s performance (she also did “Unfinished Sympathy”) was greeted with well-deserved ovation. But the biggest surprise happened during the encore, when no other than His Majesty Damon motherfucking Albarn came out to do “Splitting The Atom”. See, this is what I don’t understand – Tiësto (with all due respect) is playing at the enormous UIC Pavilion for $70 and will, I’m sure, sell out, while people don’t want to spend measly 40 bucks to see the greatest electronic band of all times and all the great folks supporting it! Well, they sure did appreciate the ones who did spend those 40 bucks, and gave back all they could. The crowd was applauding and making all kinds of noises for good 10 minutes after the encore, and the magnificent “Karmacoma” made the sweet ending to this epic and yet intimate concert.
This is the actual video from the show (borrowed from largeman) with surprisingly good quality: