Massive Attack v Adam Curtis

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My Oblique Strategies card for Wednesday night was….. “Do we need holes?” ….. ha! Cue filthy sniggering thoughts re anuses and vaginas. Which, actually, would surely warrant the answer ‘yes we do need holes’. Other than that, I was stuck on how I was going to interpret this one.

Well, on Wednesday night, I found my angle. The Massive Attack V Adam Curtis show at Manchester International Festival was like falling into a big hole of raw fear. I know something has been good when, the next morning, I wake up not remembering specific details but the sensory and emotional experience and this was exactly the case for me. I had the advantage of being seated up on the platform for wheelchair users which gave me an amazing view (indeed, my companion for the evening reported that she had been on a previous evening and didn’t enjoy it because she had been stood amongst the crowd and could hardly see).

We were shown a documentary, which makes it sound stale; it was more like a ‘VJ’ performance with Massive Attack providing the soundtrack to video clips and commentary which brought together politics, media, greed, humanity, war, disaster, and terrorism (to put it crudely and ignorantly). The clever thing about it was…. it brought it all home. To me, the show was about bringing what I only ever see on the television into my immediate vision; into my guilt and conscience. We were totally immersed in this audio and visual spectacle as the screens surrounded us and the sound invaded us in the vast, dark, gloomy abandoned rail depot which was our venue. And it felt like we, the crowd, were a crucial role in the production….. the thousands of hot sweaty people cramped into a small, bleak area, brought to mind the human suffering which we were being shown.

It was a frightening wake-up call and it seems contradictory to say I was relieved to be able to leave when I simultaneously enjoyed it so much.

I needed that hole…. I needed a reminder of where we stand, what we do, how we have fought, and how we can change. It was a horrible, beautiful hole.

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