Massive Attack Malkin Bowl, Vancouver BC May 29

Massive Attack Malkin Bowl, Vancouver BC May 29
Despite the fine mist that pervaded the air at Vancouver's forest-wrapped Malkin Bowl, Massive Attack delivered a stunning performance that was both blisteringly loud and dark as hell.

Hailing from the UK, the sonic collective have made a career of merging dance, trance and ethereality, coupling this with some serious vocal talents and founding member Robert Del Naja's unsettling, yet seductive whispers. The band's history may be riddled by tantrums, personal clashes and artistic differences, but live, the group were relaxed and focused.

Singer Martina Topley-Bird came out initially wearing a white wool poncho and a bright pink chiffon skirt, bringing the image of a bizarrely decorated Björk, but with more vocal resonance. Other core member Daddy G looked comatose on stage, but his behaviour just typified his brooding style. The group soon began to bait the crowd with some classics, from the dark ambience of "Inertia Creeps" to the now-appropriated House theme song, "Teardrop."

For highlights, Massive Attack launched into an hypnotic performance of "Psyche" from their latest offering, Heligoland, followed by a powerful, eardrum piercing delivery of "Girl I Love You," one of the most aggressive tunes on the new album. But it was roots-reggae legend Horace Andy who stole the show by killing it with "Angel," the trip-hop classic led by Andy's trademark vibrato. It also didn't hurt that Topley-Bird eventually morphed into a sex goddess wearing something of a Catwoman suit, complete with skin-tight leather pants.

By night's end, it was safe to say that Massive Attack's groove-heavy neo-psychedelia is only getting better with age.