Attack had lined up an impressive array of support acts combining
local talent (Lupine Howl, Martina Topley-Bird, Goldfrapp) and
bands of the moment (The Bees and The Streets).
I spoke to seemed to enjoy their offerings, but apart from
some who were looking forward to The Streets, everyone was
there for the main act.
early bands got relatively little attention - there was the
odd murmur about what a great voice MTB has and a few people
stood up to enjoy The Bees.
grabbed a little more of the limelight - the voice and look
of Alison G is not something easily ignored.
spoke volumes, I think, that her set opened with old songs
and was merely peppered with tracks from the new album - a
touch of crowd-pleasing here but fair play, the crowd was
there to be pleased.
Goldfrapp: Not easily ignored
Prize-nominated The Streets (aka Mike Skinner) began by imparting:
"I've been told Bristol is a mellow place, but I think
I might be wrong."
the end of the high-energy set he was indeed wrong.
laid back crowd had been whipped up into "liveliness",
as Skinner put it, by the band's frank urban lyrics set to
the end, Skinner had the audience eating out of his hand -
joining in and waving lighters (pints, mobile phones) in the
fantastic choice of warm-up act who thanked Massive Attack
not once but twice for giving him the opportunity to play
at Queen Square.
so to the headliners - Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall,
playing their home city for the first time in five years.
opening with a number from the new album, 3D jokingly introduced
Daddy G as "the tallest man in trip-hop" and the
pair, plus guest singers, wowed the crowd for an hour and
Andy's melodic, pulsating voice - as first heard on Blue Lines
- brought us One Love and the Hymn of the Big Wheel.
vocalist Dot Allison had no trouble with the hit songs featuring
Sinead O'Connor, Shara Nelson and Liz Fraser.
was no messing about: MA played all the hits: Karmacoma, Safe
From Harm and of course Unfinished Sympathy.
were stirred to their feet by the intriguing sound of
appreciative audience did not have to play a waiting game
for the two encores and Del Naja and Marshall seemed to enjoy
every minute of the gig.
taken two years for this to happen and I can't believe it
is happening now," exclaimed 3D, who also urged us to
"keep Bristol music progressive" - dedicating Teardrop
to all those who are.
sound system could not be faulted in my opinion and there
was no trouble - the atmosphere was one of celebration and
camaraderie - especially in the long beer queues.
two trips for refreshments took 40 minutes and more than an
hour... my only criticism of the event.
Lights, music, action
couple of lads from Nottingham who'd braved the M42 and M5
southbound said they'd already seen MA on the 100th Window
Tour and the light show was fantastic: "Once seen, never
forgotten," they enthused.
baffled me a little - they're just lights, after all - but
my friends from the East were right - the
screen at the back of the stage was a hive of activity throughout.
from being something to look at when you can't actually see
the tiny little people on stage, it was an addictive mine
of the world whizzing from place to place - including Bristol
and Queen Square, which got a huge cheer - statistics about
the war in Iraq, backed up by verbal comments from 3D, and
text about world energy consumption.
screen had been tailored for the local audience - loads of
city suburbs flashed up, along with a full five-day weather
forecast for Bristol and even a mention of the Downs League.
group called for a dedicated arena in Bristol
had been billed as a homecoming and lived up to this for the
crowd and for Massive Attack.
only one city in the world I'd live in - f*** Paris, f***
New York - it's Bristol," stated Del Naja.
one point he even got quite emotional, saying: "I'm gushing
a bit but my mum and dad are here".
and globalization were not the only political messages delivered
at this concert.
advertising, they say to get a message across to an audience
you need to say it three times.
Attack may well have been employing this technique at their
Queen Square gig because that's precisely how many times they
told the 20,000-strong audience that Bristol is desperate
for a dedicated entertainment arena.
as the setting was picturesque and central, covering over,
fencing-off, policing and stewarding an event like this can't
to that the facilities you need to buy in - portable loos,
beer and tee-shirt outlets and an army of burger vans - and
you have a pretty complicated set up.
turnout alone is proof that Bristol will support a purpose-built
crowd got the message loud and clear and this gig was within
earshot of the Council House - let's hope the next time Massive
Attack play in Bristol it will be at the Temple Quay arena
we've been promised...