Massive Attack headlined the third night of the O2 Wireless Festival, and although they drew a large crowd, they did find themselves with a couple of small hurdles to cross as the set began.
The numbers noticeably grew in front of the Main Stage once DJ Shadow's set in the XFM tent was over; this was a performance so popular that many who wanted to couldn't get near the second stage. Also the festival was still buzzing after the extraordinary show put on by Flaming Lips. Massive Attack had to be on top form to stop Wayne Coyne and his army of friends in fancy dress steeling the day completely.
Massive Attack don't have over fifteen years of hits and touring behind them for nothing. With the band's singles album having been out for a couple of months, this was always going to be a set heavy with crowd-pleasing anthems. Virtually every intro was greeted by a roar of approval and a ripple of excitement running throughout Hyde Park, the first huge reaction came for the 'Blue Lines' closing track 'Hymn of the Big Wheel'.
It's clear that Massive Attack are still as issue conscious as ever. The band made they're feelings known on the subject of the BNP and the catholic church's position of being against the use of condoms. The political and social stuff was dealt with mainly in the first half of the performance, as the night wore on the band focused their energies solely into creating a party atmosphere worthy of any great Friday night out.
This career spanning set saw the hits keep on coming, from as far back as 1991's 'Blue Lines' right through to 2006. 'Safe From Harm', 'Karmacoma', 'Angel' and 'Teardrop' all went down especially well.
The encore included one of their oldest and newest moments alongside each other. It will come as no surprise that 'Unfinished Sympathy' got one of the biggest reactions of the whole day, it has after all consistently been voted as one of the greatest dance records of all time. The response to 'Live With Me', the new track from the best of was equally strong, if this is a sign of what to expect from the band's next album in 2007 then Massive Attack have a cracker waiting to be unleashed. Some fans seemed disappointed that 'Protection' wasn't played, however with as much music as this lot have to draw from you're never going to please everyone all the time.
Although to listen to on CD Massive Attack are fairly chilled, on stage there is a power and rock edge to their music that simply doesn't seem to come across when the band are working in the studio. For this reason even if you're not too sure about them musically, they're a band you really need to see live. That said on this occasion, although the electro legends did rock Hyde Park, for many leaving the festival after day three, they may have had a Massive Attack song in their head, but they'd still have been visualizing a giant alien or Wayne Coyne in his floating space bubble. This should definitely be called as a high scoring draw between the two acts, although for my money Flaming Lips stuck the winner in the net in the dying minutes to win the day overall.