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Story last updated: 29 August 2003 1640 BST Printable version of this page
Massive Attack wow home crowd
by Lisa Rowell
BBC Bristol website reporter

:: Massive Attack plus support

:: 25 August 2003

:: Queen Square
"Keep Bristol music progressive..."
Massive 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).

Everyone 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.

The 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.

Goldfrapp grabbed a little more of the limelight - the voice and look of Alison G is not something easily ignored.

It 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.

Alison Goldfrapp
Alison Goldfrapp: Not easily ignored

'Liveliness'

Mercury 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."

By the end of the high-energy set he was indeed wrong.

The laid back crowd had been whipped up into "liveliness", as Skinner put it, by the band's frank urban lyrics set to dizzy drumbeats.

By the end, Skinner had the audience eating out of his hand - joining in and waving lighters (pints, mobile phones) in the air.

A fantastic choice of warm-up act who thanked Massive Attack not once but twice for giving him the opportunity to play at Queen Square.

'Trip-hop'

And so to the headliners - Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall, playing their home city for the first time in five years.

After 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 a half.

Horace Andy's melodic, pulsating voice - as first heard on Blue Lines - brought us One Love and the Hymn of the Big Wheel.

And vocalist Dot Allison had no trouble with the hit songs featuring Sinead O'Connor, Shara Nelson and Liz Fraser.

There was no messing about: MA played all the hits: Karmacoma, Safe From Harm and of course Unfinished Sympathy.

The Bees
Some were stirred to their feet by the intriguing sound of The Bees

The 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.

"It's 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.

The 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.

Our two trips for refreshments took 40 minutes and more than an hour... my only criticism of the event.

Lights, music, action

A 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.

This 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.

Aside from being something to look at when you can't actually see the tiny little people on stage, it was an addictive mine of information.

Maps 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.

The 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.

Massive Attack
The group called for a dedicated arena in Bristol

It had been billed as a homecoming and lived up to this for the crowd and for Massive Attack.

"There's only one city in the world I'd live in - f*** Paris, f*** New York - it's Bristol," stated Del Naja.

At one point he even got quite emotional, saying: "I'm gushing a bit but my mum and dad are here".

Iraq and globalization were not the only political messages delivered at this concert.

In advertising, they say to get a message across to an audience you need to say it three times.

Arena plea

Massive 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.

Much as the setting was picturesque and central, covering over, fencing-off, policing and stewarding an event like this can't be cost-effective.

Add 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.

The turnout alone is proof that Bristol will support a purpose-built arena.

The 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...

MORE FROM THIS STORY
MASSIVE ATTACK
QUEEN SQUARE 2003
Full review and pictures
MASSIVE ATTACK
Massive Attack
Read the review
See band pictures
Watch report
Watch interview
Exclusive! Real 28/56

Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall talk to the BBC's Jemma Cooper
Your view of the gig
What did you think?
GOLDFRAPP
Goldfrapp
See the pictures
THE STREETS
The Streets
See the pictures
THE BEES
The Bees
See the pictures
MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD
Martina Topley-Bird
See the pictures
THE QUEEN SQ CROWD
Crowd
Did we snap you?
Your view of the gig
RELATED LINKS
  Massive Attack official site

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