Heligoland was launched after seven years in the making, and the following evening saw Massive Attack kick off their world tour in Brighton, playing to the most varied crowed I’ve had the privilege to jive with. From school kids and middle-aged rockers, to 30-somethings and the elderly, Massive Attack drew a crowd with a diversity almost comparable to the band’s own musical exploits.
Major hits – like Angel and Risingson – were dispersed in healthy doses throughout the set, ensuring that those who hadn’t had a chance to wrap their mitts around the latest release still had plenty to dance about. Massive Attack were up to their usual standard of wonderment, with their truly unique blend of original lighting techniques and unparalleled stage presence synthesizing to make one of the most visually arresting bands you’re likely to glimpse on any stage. The ten members switch on and off of stage regularly, with the various combinations of talents hinting at the song that will follow.
Sadly, the angelic Elbow frontman Guy Garvey, and Damon Albarn of Blur fame (who both feature prominently across on Heligoland) didn’t make the appearances that gigs earlier in the year had hinted towards. As a result, song choices from Heligoland were limited, and the truly sublime Saturday Comes Slow was a no show. That said, we still got fantastic gems like Paradise Circus and Splitting The Atom, which dropped and lifted the tone of the gig, crafting the night into a truly awesome experience.
A particularly haunting reinvention of arguably their most famous song, Teardrop, proved to be a bold move that may have disappointed just as many as it enthralled. But all was undoubtedly forgiven when Atlas Air, in all its live, dance-fuelled glory, burst into life. Immediately following was Unfinished Sympathy, creating possibly the most intense climax to any encore the Brighton Dome has ever seen.
I’ve heard many complain that Massive Attack has lost its touch, that five albums in 20 years is not enough to remain in public favour. I argue differently, and say that Heligoland is the culmination of all that the 2000’s have offered musically, and sets down a creative milestone for the new decade. Massive Attack has had my respect and admiration throughout much of my teens, and after the events of Tuesday, they have cemented my praise, and stolen my ears for the foreseeable future.