So I will make this short and sweet. I had two amazing nights in Dublin for Massive Attack's kickoff shows of 2016. It was a real privilege getting to hear the new material been premiered live for the first time ever. And the Olympia Theatre is probably the best venue let alone in Dublin, but also the best type of venue to see a band such as Massive Attack play. Small and intimate is the way here. The Olympia only has a capacity of around 1500 people, so you get the idea. It was a welcome return for Massive Attack after playing the Olympia back in October 2009.
Of the new songs, the two that stick out the most in my mind are the new EP titled "Ritual Spirit" (with newcomer Azekel) and "Clock Forward" (with Martina), which has this amazing chorus of "We anticipate love". Azekel's voice is definitely a unique addition to Massive Attack's live sound.
"Voodoo In My Blood" doesn't need much of a description as a bootlegged YouTube video of it is online. 3D did introduce Young Fathers before it though as being "the future" as he saw it. They're a band that are definitely reminiscent of what Massive Attack were like about 25 odd years ago. May I add that their support slot before Massive Attack was a real energetic affair. Real mad drumming skills they have going on there! I already have their first two albums coming in the post to me now as I type this.
"Take It There" is a a sombre piano led track, with 3D, Daddy G (subbing for Tricky) and Martina on stage for it. On the EP it will feature Tricky in place of Daddy G I believe.
Some of the reviews of the Dublin shows both from the Irish press and on Twitter were less kind about the show, lamenting the fact that there was no Safe From Harm or Unfinished Sympathy on the setlist. I guess from one sense I can see why they would be disappointed, but as I said earlier getting to hear all the new stuff for the first time as a big fan was a real treat, so I didn't mind.
The stage and screen setup for this year is pretty identical from 2014. Some small changes in the band lineup include a new drummer, John Tonks replacing Damon Reece, and also Euan Dickinson (Massive Attack's studio engineer/producer) on keyboards throughout the set.
The show also ends with a poignant montage of photos of Syrian refugees flashed across the screen for about 2 minutes. The photos have been taken by photo journalist Giles Duley. Its a bold move to end a show on such a sobering note, but that what makes Massive Attack different from any other band out there.
And here's the setlist for the first night's show which I'm about 99% sure of at this stage:
01. Dead Editors (1 minute instrumental intro) (from UK Gold Soundtrack)
02. Battle Box 001
03. United Snakes
05. Paradise Circus
06. Ritual Spirit (with Azekel)
07. Girl I Love You
08. Psyche (Flash Treatment)
09. Future Proof
10. Clock Forward (with Martina)
13. Inertia Creeps
14. Voodoo In My Blood (with Young Fathers)
15. Karmacoma (Portishead Experience)
16. Take It There (with 3D, Daddy G and Martina)
17. Jupiter (with lyrics from Martina's own song Poison)
18. Splitting The Atom
The setlist for the second night was identical in structure except there was no Dead Editors intro and they skipped Karmacoma. Despite that I thought the second night was probably the better of the two. Maybe because the band were that bit more relaxed after the first night of the tour.
Also the coolest moment for me personally was from the 2nd night's show. It was 3D's birthday that night (well technically the following day, but only about an hour or so to go until midnight). During the final encore break when the band were off stage, I in the front row started shouting into the crowd that it was 3D's birthday tonight! And it worked! I got a few people around me to start shouting it and it took off so by the time the band came back on stage for the final song the whole standing crowd were shouting it! 3D looked embarrassed by it all and was blushing and then he pointed to me with a smile. Obviously he knew I was the guy who started the whole impromptu birthday celebration for him!
I was also at the shows with a lovely French journalist named Melissa. You should check out her blog here or on Twitter. She's constantly traveling so she makes a very interesting person to follow. The pictures from the first night embedded below are all from her, which she has kindly let me use for this blog post.
OK thank you to everyone for reading this. It will be a memory that will live a long time in my mind. Hope other Massive Attack fans seeing them on tour this year will have their own memories soon enough!