Live music review: Massive Attack @ The Olympia, Dublin


Most bands would feel pressure from having a Mercury Prize-winning band on support duty. Yet come the end of the night, after an opening set from Edinburgh’s Young Fathers and their later collaboration with Massive Attack on new track ‘Voodoo Is In My Blood’, Robert Del Naja, the linchpin of the latter, declares that he’s seen the future — and it’s looking good.

If you weren’t in the Olympia sharpish enough on a muggy midweek evening, you might have missed the future. By 7.45pm Young Fathers are already a couple songs into their set. Theirs is a primal, angry aesthetic. ‘Get Up’ and ‘Rain or Shine’ are deserving of more dancing feet, though.

It’s the second of two nights at the Olympia for Massive Attack, and the crowd never rises above subdued, intrigue mixing with a soggy excitement and a heck of a lot of chatter. The blinding lights wouldn’t be out of step with the biggest of clubs.

It’s been 18 months since the Bristol duo’s last Dublin headliner, at Longitude festival, and tonight’s set is peppered with new tunes, Martina Topley-Bird, the voice that launched a thousand late-night afterparties, and Horace Andy, cloaked in the shadows, walking in and out of proceedings.

One of the most politically charged groups around, Massive Attack continue in that vein throughout, that considerable LED setup getting a full workout as it gets the message out about the refugee crisis, the dictatorial nature of big brands, and, the status that gets the biggest cheer of the night: “Donald Trump finally finds someone crazier than he is.”

As the beats swirl and the screen envelops, the crowd is whisked away; it’s an aural dream world induced by nightmares. It’s been an experiment, a work in progress, says 51-year-old birthday-boy 3D at the end.

The biggest cheers come for the midset double-whammy of ‘Teardrop’ and ‘Angel’, two delicate crowning glories in a career spanning almost 30 years. Their collaboration with Young Fathers is a percussion-heavy, cataclysmic track built around a chorus of “Why does the blood always stick to your teeth?” It’s a hypnotising, powerful, and unsettling set, capped by Heligoland’s glorious ‘Splitting the Atom’.


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