With the evening not being strictly a Massive Attack gig, it was impossible to say what type of evening was going to unfold in the Castlefield Arena but hopes were always high that Massive Attack would deliver a stellar performance.

The opening numbers were delivered behind a backdrop whilst visuals were flashed to the crowd, adding to the sense of excitement and slight confusion in the air. Billed as collaboration between art and music, the Becks Fusion event didn't have too many art installations around the venue and no one seemed too sure about what was happening. The swirling images, many incorporating the black flower that has come to symbolizes much of Massive Attacks recent years, filled the dark night sky and working strongly with ‘United Snakes.’

With two drum kits on stage, there had been no lessening of Massive Attacks onslaught despite their absence in recent years. Their music, much like their political message, has not been diluted and long term fans will have taken comfort in the continuity feel from their last major tours and events.

Massive Attack has always been about collaborations and working with other artists and they were ably assisted by a couple of female vocalists, a small string section and of course Horace Andy.

'Teardrop' was superbly handled by Stephanie Dosen, with the best compliment being that it was very close to the Liz Fraser version. It's not always best to offer comparisons between vocalists or artists but given the beauty contained within Fraser’s delivery, it is meant as a compliment. Dosen, in her own right, showed on some of the new material that she too has the ability to weave and develop melody and hopefully she will have her moments to shine on the forthcoming album from Massive Attack.

And where there is beauty, there is usually a counterpoint with darkness and anger and Massive Attack are still channeling a lot of their thoughts towards the wrong doings and general confusion that is occurring at the moment. Some people may say that not much has changed for the better since the band started seriously politicizing their feelings but that's beside the point, bands are in a position to influence and encourage people to consider the world around them and Massive Attack are one of the best.

The show may have been billed as a mash-up between art and music but it was the backdrops and information provided by Massive Attack that would be remembered long after the event had finished. A lot of it was similar to ideas that were being pushed on the 100th Window tour but as the problems with the world still exist, theres no reason for the messages to have died down.

Over a pulsating version of 'Marakesh' that built to a ferocious climax, the audience were bombarded with news headlines, detention figures and long standing quotes from political and social innovators / murderers (delete as applicable) that brought home some strong points about the supposed freedom that we are all meant to enjoy these days. There is no doubt that it's a fucked up little world at times and whilst it will take a lot more than Massive Attack to make the tiniest dent in the machine, at least some people are giving it a go. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing is as true today as it has ever been. Regardless of all that, this song was excellent and was enjoyable on every level imaginable.

Of course, not everyone wants politics shoved down their throat at a gig, some people just want entertainment and enjoyment and luckily, these people were catered for too. It may have been dark, damp and getting colder in Manchester but 'Safe From Harm', 'Inertia Creeps' and 'Angel' were all popular sing-along moments which seemed to bring the crowd into the event too.

They’ve had a fair old career but Massive Attack are a band that seem to genuinely cross between boundaries and fans without alienating others. They have always been an act that has relied on tension and friction but hopefully they have reached enough peace to ensure the new album is well worth the wait. Then again, let’s also hope there's enough anger and fire left in them to make it all worthwhile. On the evidence they gave in Manchester, that won’t be a problem.