One of the best music bills we’ve ever seen came to Los Angeles when electronic music pioneers Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation brought their successful joint tour to a close with a sold-out show at The Gibson Amphitheater for LA Weekly’s LA 101 event. The full day affair featured two outdoor stages, which included some select KCRW DJs spinning, tasty food trucks and progressive vendors, who all helped make the LA finale an unforgettable event.
Both Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation have been longtime admirers of each other’s work and this tour offered them the chance to collaborate and share something special with their fans.
“I’m sad that it’s coming to an end because it feels like we’re just getting to know each other,” said Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation backstage before the show. “They’re part of our family now.”
This tour is a success because we’ve been getting even more people coming out in markets that we didn’t expect.
The dream pairing of Thievery Corporation and Massive Attack proved to be every bit as magical as fans had always envisioned it could be. Both acts are renowned around the world for their ability to transform their songs for the stage but getting the chance to see them both do it in the same night was something special.
“It’s a lot to challenge people with three hours of music with a half-hour break in between,” explained Garza’s production partner, Eric Hilton.
Thievery Corporation’s assured set focused heavily on their more energetic productions, which had the crowd dancing throughout, while Massive Attack’s show was far darker and used extensive lighting, along with a ferocious backing band that came complete with two drummers, to stir an entirely different set of emotions from the crowd.
“I was talking to the guys from Massive Attack and they were worried about going on right after us in the beginning,” recalled Garza.
Hilton added, “It’s a great balance between what we do on stage and then the more moody experience that Massive Attack does.”
Thievery Corporation have extensively toured the world since the release of their 2008 record, Radio Retaliation, and they have now perfected songs from that album along with reworking selections from their extensive back catalog. Crowd favorites such as “Liberation Front,” “Originality” and “38.45” never sounded better, and Perry Farrell was even on hand to deliver a particularly theatric version of “Revolution Solution.”
Garza and Hilton had ample help from the excellent collection of musicians who fill out their live band, including Fort Knox Five’s Rob Myers on sitar and guitar, along with a rotating collection of longtime vocalists Rootz and Zeebo, alongside the classic reggae stylings of Sleepy Wonder and Sister Pat.
“We feel really lucky that we have great singers and instrumentalists with us on stage,” said Garza about the live band, before Hilton added:
You have to take things to another level with the live show. Everyone in our band does such a phenomenal job, we’re like a well-oiled machine at this point.
Thievery Corporation’s live show is a journey through their “outernational sounds” which allowed the band to win over plenty of new fans by smashing down any preconceived stereotypes.
“People might only have one vision of Thievery Corporation from what they’ve heard on a lounge compilation like Hotel Costes, but it’s something much different,” explained Garza.
Massive Attack have done the same thing through their live show. Principal band members Robert “3D” Del Naja and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall have given their music another dimension by mixing the band’s futuristic beats with snarling guitars, underscored by a custom light show that featured though-provoking headlines pulled from around the world. They stormed through classics like “Safe From Harm,” “Angel,” and a stripped-down version of “Teardrop” (which was fronted by Martina Topley-Bird), along with tracks from their recent album, Heligoland, such as the thrilling encore of “Atlas Air.”
“Their show is amazing,” marveled Hilton. “It’s all about the tension they build throughout their set, plus they have a great light show.”
With the sold-out US tour completed and both bands sounding more vibrant than ever, perhaps fans can now realistically dream of the next step, which would see the two acts pairing up together again in the studio or swap remixes.
Those guys have expressed their admiration for what we do and we feel the same way. Hopefully sometime in the future there will be some kind of collaboration.
Garza added, “We’re getting ready to go back in the studio to finish off our new album, so just the fact that there’s still so much momentum and energy from our fans about the music we’ve been playing for fifteen years, we feel very blessed and lucky.”
They’re also due to deliver their highly anticipated live DVD in 2011 as well, so fans who haven’t been able to catch Thievery Corporation before will now have the chance to see the band at their best from the comfort of home.
Garza and Hilton have begun to realize the magnitude of this dream bill that they helped put together. This special tour will hopefully serve to inspire more electronic bands of this caliber to bring fans a unique concert experience that they’ll never forget.
“These shows have been so great,” said Garza. “We started off as two different bands, and then through the course of the tour we became friends. It’s just been an amazing synergy between the two groups.”