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MASSIVE ATTACK @ BIRMINGHAM ACADEMY
BENEFIT SHOW FOR HOPING FOUNDATION
By Ian Holloway
Hands up, when I first got tickets for this I had no idea that it was a Benefit Show, but this together with the fact that I was actually taking the missus out meant that this was turning into a double brownie points night. I was already looking forward to this one, as the last time I had seen MA in Brum had been at the soulless NEC, all-seater, getting bollocked for standing up – not my cup of tea…………..but this was back to basics, the Academy, venue of many a lost night out (as The Hummingbird) in my more formative years, I’d even gone as far as booking the next day off work in anticipation of waking up with a Strongbow hangover (although I had resisted the good lady’s idea suggestion of defrosting some of that “cake”, last time that had happened it had felled all the lads and a concrete elephant at an FA Cup third round match and I was a little worried that like a good Christmas Pudding it may have been fermenting, growing stronger in the freezer……………waiting to send me over the edge once and for all! ! ! ! !)
After a couple of beers in one of Birmingham’s less glamorous pubs we went on to The Academy, the sold out signs were up and it was a sizeable crowd in attendance, the usual mix of students and people old enough to know better. The pre-match beers and scrum at the bar meant that I had completely over looked the “support act”, but my ears pricked up when I heard “Walking With Jesus”, indeed it was none other than Mr J.Spaceman, so I settled down two pints in hand, the missus chugging on her “smuggled in” vodka (good girl………nice cheap night out), and enjoyed the tinkling of the ivories and string quartet, everyone was warming up nicely.
MA took to the stage with the usual less is more set up, no frills, just the band, simple light show, this was all about the music. And this was a full line up, the whole MA collective was in full force. The line up fluxed and changed with only the relevant performers taking to the stage when required, so at one point it was only Liz Fraser up on stage crooning away as only Liz Fraser can.
The crowd wasn’t exactly jumping, seemingly more coming to “pay respect”, and the volume seemed to be a bit on the low side but the warmth and appreciation from the crowd was reciprocated by MA and the line up continued to chop and change as the Mezzanine Album was getting a full roll-out…………Tear Drop, Man Next Door and Inertia Creeps all getting the masses swaying. Horace Andy took his turn on stage – the night was flying.
As the evening was drawing to a close MA reminded everyone why they were there, to raise money for Palestinian Refugee Children, a worthy cause, well worth a Tuesday night out with or without MA. Predictably the final songs raised the roof, Unfinished Sympathy drawing a few tears from the Missus as she remembered fallen friends and family – young and old – soppy sod.
All in all a great night from a great band, and so much better to see them in more intimate surroundings than a sanitized “arena”, they never disappoint and I’ll be getting the tingles when the new album surfaces later in the year. And was I ever glad to have booked the day off next morning – the Strongbow hangover was present and correct, I really am getting too old to go out on a school night.
Haven-Bauer-Roma @ Manchester Academy3
by Liam Ronan
As someone who has never come across these bands before I can categorically state that the order of appearance in no-way reflects the order of quality. Roma are definitely the best band of the night with a nineties style melodic indie reminiscent in times of the Charlatans, The Doves and The Verve. The band looks good and plays tight: a textbook northern indie outfit. Most importantly however, Roma seem to enjoy themselves and have a very relaxed stage atmosphere. This draws you in and I think you appreciate the music more this way.
It’s a shame that such a genuine band, with talent, such as Roma has to appear as support to such a pretentious and arrogant band as Bauer. The Mancunian act starts off well enough spewing out a sort of Kasabian-meets-Killers synth vibe, with a bit of New Order/Electronic eighties synth thrown in for good measure. However, as the setlist goes on the singer grows evermore cocksure of himself and the synth becomes overly serious. Moreover, all the songs begin to mould into one and sound the same. Bauer embody the bad elements of Keane, Embrace and Muse. Furthermore, it seems they have ‘hired a crowd’ as some of the amateur dramatics in the front row are ridiculous; on the last song I half expect knickers and flowers to be thrown.
Haven occupy the stage like they know they are the headliners; with a cool presence and a cool sound. The raw indie-rock’n’roll they play reminds me of an early Sterophonics and Manic Street Preachers. Also, their drums are quite tribal at times and the lead guitarist can pull off some decent riffs. The most notable songs on the setlist are Something Old Something New Something Borrowed, which has a good melody to it and No-one Cuts So Deep, which strikes similarities to Starsailor with its emotional lyrics and sound. Just as each song seems to get slower and slower and more emotional, Haven really crank it up a gear. For the last couple of tunes they bring back the animal in the drummer and the rocking riffs of the lead guitarist. This is the type of tempo I think Haven are better at, they sound much more natural.
At no time does the triple entente of Roma, Bauer and Haven set the night on fire. Someone at the gig actually suggested that these bands were the pinnacle of what Manchester has to offer in terms of new music. Luckily for Manchester, they were wrong.
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