DANCE Massive Attack
Glasgow: Barrowland, Sat 18 Apr
* it i i
In the sleeve notes to Massive Attack‘s new album Mezzanine, Sarah Jay, who makes her vocal debut on the album, thanks the people who she calls 'the alchemists: 3D, Daddy G and Mush'. It seems apt that she should compare the three members of Massive to alchemists, people who dabble in unlikely chemistry projects, trying to make gold out of the strangest elements.
Like the chemical pioneers of old, the core Massive trio mix up a wide range of sonic ingredients, trying to make aural gold. And, again like alchemists, the exact effect of each ingredient and indeed each band member is somewhat vague. For it's difficult to pinpoint the roles played by each of Massive's members within a live performance setting. Mush is practically invisible for most of the concert, sat behind a mixing desk and practising the arcane skills of cutting up loops and samples. Daddy G and 3D aren't even on stage rapping for a good half of the show. Instead it's the distinctive voice of reggae toasting master Horace Andy that carries a healthy portion of the singing duties, along
with an occasional helping voice from Deborah Miller's
g powerful lungs.
But then such is the faceless nature of Massive's music: In fact, once the threesome have laid down the blueprint for each track on CD, who performs it on stage isn’t the crucial point. The music has character but doen't need characters to perform it. As live performers, Massive aren’t live wires. They don't need to be. Their music isn't jump around kind of stuff and they seem happy practically asleep on their feet. There is little banter with the audience, there is no attempt to project their three separate personalities out into the audience.
And yet curiously none of the above detracts either
Massive Attack: not overly fond of a giggle
from Massive Attack's talents or the entertainment
value of this concert. Their skill lies in their ability to
create these songs which sound like nothing that anyone else in Britain is doing. The difference betweer this and any other gig is that a Massive concert is like hearing more intense versions of their studio tracks. If the new album sounds menacing in your bedroom then it sounds truly terrifying live. Equally, breathtakingly beautiful tracks like 'Hymn Of The Big Wheel' from Blue Lines sound even more spirit-lifting, especially when set against the deep, dark backdrop of Mezzanine. Not a conventional concert but then not a conventional band.
ROCK Bacardi Rum Unsigned Final
Glasgow: The Cathouse, Thu 16 Apr * at at
Dominic Waxing lyrical leg it to Ladyland
It’s the second year of the Bacardi battle of the bands, co-sponsored by a Zillion music-related organisations and punting cheap Bacardi by the reservoir But it’s not about product placement, it’s about your mate's band and the fact that they could be off to New York/on MTV/pressmg tOOO CDs/ getting a new set of cymbals Or losing.
Cicada, Winners of the Glasgow heat, have the best singer - and not just because he's wearing the same tiger print top as me and Mel B, Sadly, the writing tunes part of being in a band seems to have eluded them and they plump for ’textures’, 'moods’, ’Vibes' and being a tad dull
Appleby from Clydebank perform like they reckon they’ve got it in the bag The least original but most entertaining band of the night, they've got the 60s riffs and haircuts down to a fine art and, although it's nothing you haven't already heard Whiteout do, it's infectiously groovy and wrns them second place.
Aberdeen’s Phonefreak are by far the
best band of the night, the only ones who sound like they’ve got a chance of survwrng out in the big bad world of the Signed Artist They manage to harness the dance-inflected sgwggles of the likes of Sneaker Pimps and make it SOund like it's got substance and potential. Unfortunately, they don't Wlfl
That honour goes to Edinburgh’s erstwhile cross-dressing, glamour pusses Dominic Waxmg Lyrical, who seem to have turned into The Levellers in recent times NB, that last remark was purely a musical observation and in no way inspired by the cellist’s delightfully matted locks. In fact, his
jazzy ‘solo' preceding their Victory
encore was the only genuinely pleasmg sound featured in a set which may well have been deemed idiosyncratic but was nevertheless on the annoying side of qurrky. Maybe the disagreeing with the end result is part of the appeal. DWL won't care — they're off to record in Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady studios. It's like that and that’s the way it is (Fiona Shepherd)
live reviews MUSIC
Edinburgh: Queen's Hall, Sat 25 Apr 1k * it ‘k
If ECAT can be relied upon for any one thing, it's a surprise At their final Queen's Hall concert this season, three string quartets by three liying cornposers » all present brought home just how potent and flexible a force the string quartet is When that force is the Maggini Quartet, everything is all the more powerful Their playing is sure, confident and matched from the very different vc)ices of Eleanor Alberga, Roxanna Panufnik and James MacMillan Without any trace of hesitanc'y. A Quartet whit h regularly commissions, the Maggini were behind all of the contemporary works heard. In the case of MacMillan, the commission celebrated the Quartet’s tenth anniversary and his Quartet N02, entitled Why /s This Night D/fftffOIII), as With the other two, received its Scottish premiere
Of the three, lVldCNlllldllS was undoubtedly the strongest and most structured voice. A deeply thoughtful and considered piece, inspired by the JeWish rite of comriiemoration on the night before Passover begins and the celebration of the flight of the Children of Israel from Egypt, it is incredibly demanding on the players. A great building up of fragments, some from melodies MacMillan wrote as a child, working together through the music, | disturbs and discomforts in such a way that no-one could remain, own on a first hearing, unaffected. His own | stated aim in the programme is 'to present a sense of celebration Within a context of danger and vrolence’. Further hearings are needed please, for us lesser mortals to really try to get to grips With this,
Panufnik's O/iwa, taken from Twelfth Night, is a tender and touching interpretation of how Viola, dressed as a man and really in love wrth OrSino, might woo OliVia. Calling for a host of different techniques and effects, it captures the essence of the passage in an almost bittersweet way In contrast, Alberga's Quartet No 7 was busy, energetic, exciting but perhaps a bit too long (Carol Main) ’
James MacMillan and the Maggini Quartet: a powerful combination
.. a 17.:
STAR RATINGS it a: a: t y. Unmissable t t * it Very ood a ‘k 1. Wort a shot is w Below average it You've been warned
30 Apr—14 May 1998 THE LIST“