Massive Attack – Mezzanine XXI
When: Friday 22nd February
Where: The O2, London
Trip-hop pioneers and two-piece Bristolian outfit Massive Attack are currently touring Europe in celebration of their classic 1998 LP Mezzanine. Last night (Friday 22nd) the duo stopped by London’s O2 for one of their biggest shows to date, with appearances from the album’s guest vocalists, Liz Fraser and Horace Andy.
Opting for no opening act, the night began with support from Britney Spears, Cher, Chumbawumba, Robbie Williams and more via the PA system, a glaringly lazy and contrapuntal oversight, and perhaps something of an indicator of what was to come.
In starting with a cover of Velvet Underground and The Cure, with Risingson nestled between, from the start the vibe was scattered to say the least. With the melancholy of the former and the upbeat nature of the latter in direct competition with the eerie nature of Risingson, the up-and-down, confusing beginning set a precedent.
The show’s well-promoted visuals, created in collaboration with Adam Curtis, echoed the performance’s overarching lack of direction. Preachy, dated and done-before, with cheap pops at Trump, prescription medication and data, the show’s message and narrative slotted between the realms of eye-rolling tedium and directionless filler.
The O2 has long-been criticised for its productional values, and last night was no different. Both 3D and Daddy G’s hush raspy voices became lost in the chatter of indifferent spectators and a poor poor sound system, one incapable of capturing the intricate layers and deep compositions of the album. Powered by those iconic stadium-style guitars and with a timid Teardrop sandwiched between the two, a strong finale of Angel and Group Four ended the show on a high, but it took a lot of effort to get there.
The Mezzanine-celebrating show was far from a celebration, lacking direction and aim, while trying to achieve more than was capable. The sound was poor, the visuals were distracting for the wrong reasons, the covers (chosen from the samples of the original album) felt out of place, of which a MA rendition of Avicii will forever confuse me. A reminder of the band and the album’s excellence, in a not so excellent form or setting.
Verdict – WW (2/5)