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Massive Attack @ Piknik i Parken / PipFest 2024

Massive Attack refuses to play the ‘legacy band’ card and proved once more their relevance through a carefully curated show, with a clear critique of the world, tailored as a wake up call.

Thursday, 13 June

8 years after their last performance on Norwegian soil, Massive Attack reconnected with their fans at Sofienbergparken with a powerful concert. This long overdue reunion was originally scheduled at the 2020 edition of PIP. After the cancellation due to COVID, the show was briefly rescheduled in 2022, but then cancelled again due to an unspecified illness. In 2023, more clarity came when the band announced the passing of their guitarist Angelo Bruschini after a long battle against cancer.
After a brief intro of ‘In my Mind’ by Gigi D’Agostino, the godfathers of trip-hop opened the show with the dark and moody ‘Risingson’ and set the tone to a promising evening. Jamaican reggae legend Horace Andy then graced the stage with the charming ‘Girl I Love You’, followed by Elizabeth Fraser with a rare performance of ‘Black Milk’.
The band then carried on with the classics ‘Hymn of the Big Wheel’, ‘Take it there’ and the mystical ‘Future Proof’, followed by a performance by the Young Fathers who sang 3 songs including ‘Voodoo in my Blood’.
The biggest surprise of the evening came from Liz Fraser with a rare and stunning rendition of Tim Buckley’s ‘Song to the Siren’. The Scottish signer covered the track 40 years ago on the first This Mortal Coil album, but rarely performed it live during her career. The poignant performance also served as a soundtrack to disturbing footage of Ukrainian and Palestinian families trying to escape bombings through the forest or underground tunnels. A paradoxical moment of pure bliss and horror.

Massive Attack are known to bring the spotlight on social issues, on and off stage. Their concerts are often used as platforms to support numerous causes and denounce social issues. This show is no exception. Once again, the band teamed up with United Visual Artists, a London based collective who creates striking video content condemning wars, corrupted leaders, or social injustices. The shocking images are often mixed with real time statistics on conflicts or excessive consumption around the world.
More recently, Massive Attack and Brian Eno have spearheaded a campaign calling for bands to boycott events sponsored by the banking giant Barclays, currently accused of investing funds in weapons companies selling arms to Israel. The band also cancelled their upcoming engagement in Georgia in July 2024 due to the political unrest, particularly in light of the controversial foreign agents law, which has intensified government repression on protestors.
The last part of the show featured the fan favourites ‘Inertia Creeps’, ‘Angel’ and ‘Karmacoma’, as well as the groovy ‘Safe from Harm’, dedicated to the people of Gaza and ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, both sung by Deborah Miller.
The band also brought back some of the covers they performed during the Mezzanine XXI tour, including Avicii’s ‘Levels,’ and Ultravox’s ‘ROckwrok’. An interesting choice given the vast catalogue of the band, although both songs were well used as segues and resonated perfectly with the tone of the show.
As Liz Fraser walked on stage to sing ‘Teardrop’, the sky opened up as if the clouds had waited for the perfect moment to spit rain. She then remained on stage for punchy version of ‘Group Four’ to close the set. Definitely a night to remember.
This show was possibly not what many were hoping for. But Massive Attack refuses to play the ‘legacy band’ card and proved once more their relevance through a carefully curated show, with a clear critique of the world, tailored as a wake up call. 5/6

Text: Olivier Fillion Boutin
Photography: Anne-Marie Forker