Massive Attack : Sydney Entertainment Centre

Defiant trip-hop veterans stare down misfortune

2003 hasn’t been particularly kind to Robert ‘3-D’ Del Naja. Not only is he at the forefront of the campaign to stop the war, but ‘pithy’ reviews for Massive Attack‘s fourth album ‘100th Window’ and an alleged hot computer mean that it’s probably already a year best forgotten. Guarding against any further cock-ups, then, Del Naja, Daddy G and dub legend Horace Andy have embarked on their most ambitious world tour to date, with ten musicians in tow and a huge screen firing off none-too-subtle anti-war messages across the entire back wall.

Somewhat predictably the whole thing is swathed in a cloud of doom. The notion that Massive Attack albums represent an escapist headspace is immediately scotched by the up-to-the minute statistics (America’s current military expenditure is $399.1 billion!) flashing constantly across the rear of the stage. It’s a bit difficult getting lost in the moment when you’re constantly being reminded of the threat of impending death.

Still, as far as playing in the shadow of the storm goes, tonight’s a triumph. The dark rupture of ‘100th Window’ swells admirably through the haunting eastern-dub ambience of ‘Antistar’, while the rasta joy of ‘Hymn Of The Big Wheel’, and a monolithic ‘Unfinished Symphony’ provide a crashing finale. In the end, it’s the way all wars should be. Tonight, the good guys win.

Alicia Brodersen