Saturday, 8 June 2013

FRONT ROW CENTRE - Massive Attack - 'Angel'

You've listened to the songs...you loved the album...now you absolutely have to see them live...
FRONT ROW CENTRE


Massive Attack - 'Angel' (1998)

Reading Rivermead Leisure Centre on September 23rd, 2009
 
 For music lovers out there, the ultimate thing to do is to see your favourite artist or group live on stage. Now, I go to a lot of concerts and for me the whole evening is an experience. Living just outside of London means it's a dreaded disgracefully long trek but it is such an amazing place, not only for music but for a night out so its worth it. Sprinkled with individual bars and restaurants hidden in every corner, it makes for a far more memorable experience! To save you hassling around, see my Gig Watch tips below! This is not a normal gig review, this is my experience.

 Flycasual wanted to see big faves of his Massive Attack and offered me a ticket. I've always liked them and was really listening to Mezzanine a lot at the time. I thought a leisure centre was a bit of a strange venue to play for such a big band but I can't imagine we would have got tickets to their Brixton shows. Besides, sometimes the stranger the venue, it being smaller and rubbing shoulders with band members becomes a higher possibility! Reading was only a short train ride away and I had printed a map of where the centre was. it didn't seem that far....as the crow flies of course. It was an absolute trek from the station and we were so out of breath we absolutely had to stop for some refreshment in the form of a flavoured cider. It being a few years ago I don't remember if we got any preconcert chow but I do remember we were both disappointed that we passed a Lebanese restaurant but didn't have enough time to check it out. We just had enough time for a quick drink at the Toby Carvery next to the centre.

I have to admit, the venue was a bit of a disappointment. It was literally a like a school hall, with smelly portaloos in one room that you had to queue for ages for, volunteers selling drinks (expensive and closed too early!) and merchandise in another room and a stage at one end of the gym. We did manage to secure a decent vantage point just behind a waist high wall, perfect for leaning on and our drinks! Despite my reservations about the venue, it has to be said that the acoustics in there were excellent as were the band's light show depicting statistics of poverty and slave labour. It was harrowing but educational and particularly struck a chord with Flycasual who had just bought a band Tshirt and the label said made in Vietnam.

I was utterly impressed with the gig, everything played from Mezzanine was such a highlight and got a massive cheer from the nearly packed gym. Martina Topley Bird who was supporting the band on tour even made a brave attempt of singing Teardrop but its one of those songs that is all about the voice of Liz Fraser. The song that was the real clincher for me, which I liked before but is now my favourite MA track soully down to this performance, was Angel. The auditorium went dark and all of a sudden singer, Horace Andy appears in a white outfit which I remember as being traditionally African in style. The bass vibrated right through me and the claustrophobic pounding and ticking coupled with the illuminating visuals was mesmerising. It built and built slowly until it was fit to burst and the sound exploded, it was beautiful all consuming noise! The rest of the concert although great just paled into comparison to that mind blowing performance. Its for this song, that I would definitely see them again in a heartbeat.

Sadly I can't find footage of the Reading gig but here is an example of Angel a few days before at Brixton Academy!


Gigwatch (everything you need to know!)
Support act: Martina Topley Bird
Recommended restaurant: Al Tarboush Lebanese Restaurant
Recommended pub: Toby Carvery

More Front Row Centre plus Gigwatch here!

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FRONT ROW CENTRE - Massive Attack - 'Angel'
4/ 5
Oleh

7 comments

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8 June 2013 at 20:11

Sounds wonderful. I haven't seen Massive Attack since they toured 'Mezzanine' not long after its release - yes, a long time ago. That gig, too, was tremendous but Mrs. Bear begs to differ and still regales one and all with how bored she was. In this instance, she most definitely doesn't know what she's talking about. I must catch them again one day.

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8 June 2013 at 23:11

Thanks for the comments SB. It's hard to go to a gig with people that don't appreciate the group you are seeing. At the same time sometimes it's that or you go alone! The minute those tickets go on sale, ill be on that phone too!

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9 June 2013 at 09:13

Another great review...would have liked to have been there (minus the portaloos) Mezzanine is my fave MA album.

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10 June 2013 at 19:55

Like Singing Bear, I also saw Massive Attack in 1998 on the 'Mezzanine' tour. Well I say saw - I unfortunately suffered a Massive Attack, a massive migraine attack and spent the gig in the foyer throwing up and being tended to by the St John's Ambulance volunteers. Believe me when I say that shudderingly loud bass is not good for a migraine! I had to drive 40 miles home afterwards too. That was a long night.

I'm really enjoying your reviews. I've been to a couple of gigs myself recently and must get around to writing something about them.

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11 June 2013 at 10:41

Thanks TS, that's awful! Poor you! You totally deserve to see them if/when they tour again.

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11 June 2013 at 17:11

I remember it well, finding the venue was a bit frought and missing out on the Lebanese was gutting. Like u say the venue was disappointing but the visuals and accoustic were great. MA are probably my favourite group/artist and though Mezzanine is a fantastic album experimenting with a harder sound, I prefer the more soulful side to their music. Angel was amazing and a highlight was a version of 'Pray For Rain' from their new album at the time.

I remember seeing them play at the Lowlands festival in Holland and they basically played the whole of Mezzanine. I was by the front and it was so damn loud, I think Sfw bailed because his ears were bleeding (not really). I can definitely empathise Mr Swede, a migraine and it being turned to 11, I would gladly give up my years supply of Houmous to get out of there.

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11 June 2013 at 18:47

I just had a flashback of us on the train to Reading! I remember I couldn't stop singing One Love from Blue Lines with the dun dun dun dun bit. I think I was just a little bit irritating!

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