Review – Massive Attack Return to Tokyo for the first time in 7 years

Since Fuji Rock in 2010, Massive Attack came back to Japan for the first time in 7 years. The show was held on the 27th of November with an additional show on the 28th of November at Toyosu Pit due to huge ticket sales. Young Fathers opened with an explosive energy. From Edinburgh, the unconventional, genre-defying trio took the stage in Tokyo, Japan and poured their souls out. The first fifteen minutes of the performance, shirts came off and the stadium was sweating from the intense dancing. Young Fathers’ devotion was not held back!

Following the tribal sound, the spiritual energy carried on with Massive Attack opening with special guest Horace Andy. His appearance brought on a sacred silence. His voice shivers while singing ‘Hymn of the Big Wheel’. The visuals then turn into news headlines and a list of the most powerful passports. Like other massive attacks shows, but this time written in Japanese, the elements in the visuals emphasis on poverty, power status, economic crisis, and social issues. Following the classic, ‘Risingson’, almost 10 years since the song came out, it still flips the roof of the stadium. 3D then thank the crowd for being here and introduce, Azekel where he sang ‘Ritual Spirit’.
The change of pace of the line-up, from an aggressive composition of the track ‘Voodoo In My Blood’ transitioning to the misty darkness of ‘Inertia Creeps’, was a perfect blend of who Massive Attack is.

For the last encore, opening with ‘Take It There’, the visual repeats,“TOGETHER WE CAN SUCCEED. AND CREATE. A MORE EQUAL WORLD. OPEN, CONSCIOUS, AUTOMATED, TRANSPARENT, AUGMENTED, ADAPTIVE, SHARED, ALWAYS CONNECTED, MORE HUMAN, EVER-EXPANDING, ALWAYS THERE, FREE, EQUAL, SECURE, ENHANCED, A BETTER TOMORROW, TOGETHER, SAFE, ADAPT, INTERACT, SHARE, EVOLVE, ACCEPT, SHARE, TRUST, ACCEPT, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”.

Special guest, Deborah Miller wearing a graceful laced black dress came back on stage for ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. The crowd screams her name like When the album dropped in 1998. Together with Young Fathers and Horrace Andy, the low frequency of Grant Daddy G’s voice singing ‘Splitting the Atoms’ vibrates the inner soul of the audiences. The show ended. It was one of those experiences where you walk out of the stadium feeling like it was all a dream.

Massive Attack: Toyosu Pit, Tokyo Japan (27/11, 28/11) from Yang Shen on Vimeo.

In 2013, an interview with German TV, 3D stated that the visuals, “… discusses the place we’re at at the moment and how we got here through the history of the last 50 years. And I think it leaves you with a sense of where you are at that space and what you can do in that space, I think it’s, I find it impairing because it unravels things you’re aware of but in a very different way that you normally see, so it demystifies things and it gives you an opportunity to see where you fit into it and again anytime that happens, you start to see things more clearly you’re given an option than to prove how to make a difference.” He indicated that the combination of the corrupted visual images and music is to carry something from the past to the present and leaves space to have the audience decide what it is for them to push against the forces that keep them in place.

When asked if we are, regardless, part of the issue and that we are helpless he said, “I think it reveals things that you may not be aware of but also a lot of times things that you are very aware of but you kind of shoved it in the background in order to get through the next day, and it’s quite convenient to do so… in the way the story is told and in the way that it comes together musically and again it’s an enlightenment. Enlightenment where you say, ‘okay, I get that now. I knew that already, but now I see it more clearly. Maybe I could do something about it or at least change something…’ … Here we all are in this together. It’s not a film, it’s not a gig, it’s a bit of everything and I think we’ve been trying to do that for the last ten years visually with our shows, trying to bring the visual elements into it, trying to tell two stories, the song being one part and the ideas of why we’re here and being in this city is another.”

There are not enough words to describe the feeling of being apart of such influential sonic and visual experience. Going on for three decades now – destructive, tender, and raw Massive Attack once again took the stage and Tokyo on an otherworldly ride.

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About the author

Yang translates the emotions in electronic music into installation and video art. She believes that Art and Music are the only two languages that have no boundaries. She started digging into electronic music when she first heard Matthew Herbert’s “I Hadn’t Known (I Only Heard)” and was completely mesmerized by its power - she has not stopped since then...

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