Monday, September 30, 2013

Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis at the Park Avenue Armory

Sell your kids and go see Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis. Sell them before I sell them so I can go see it again.

As anyone who’s read this blog knows I’m a he Adam Curtis fan. I’ve reviewed almost everything he’s done (see the reviews here) and I find his take on recent history enlightening and infuriating. He’s the sort of filmmaker who assumes you’re not stupid and can keep up with him which makes him an extremely rare bird.

The film cum concert is neither a film nor concert in any real sense. It’s a political provocation and a poke in the eye. It’s a call for the audience to get off its ass and change the world because despite what we are being told change is possible., a better world is possible if only we are willing to find our way home past the guard dogs.

The show as being performed at Park Avenue is a carefully staged managed affair. Let into the venue early we are kept in a small curtained off area, then about fifteen minutes before the start we are let into s bowl shaped arena with screens on every wall except the rear. Once the performance begins the screens are filled with various images and text telling the story of how we went from a world where we dreamed of a hopeful future and now simply try to keep the status quo and manage the danger. Of course this makes for a world were nothing changes and danger lurks everywhere.

Scoring it all and complimenting Curtis’s narration was the music of Massive Attack. Playing largely covers anything from Russian punk songs (which I knew for some unknown reason) to the Archies’s Sugar Sugar to Bela Lugosi is Dead to I don’t know what else. Its an eclectic mix that made for some interesting marriages with the image (The pre-2001 destruction of the world was chilling).

I, and Peter Gutierrez ate it up from the start. I know early on many people had no idea what they were seeing. They seemed confused that it wasn’t a straight on Massive Attack concert. However as things went on they got into it and were soaking in the politics and the music.

As an Adam Curtis film its probably the least thing he’s done, but you can’t say it’s really a film simply because it has to mesh with the music and the dancing. As political poke in the eye it’s a brilliant piece of agit-prop. It’s the sort of thing that made you want to go out and storm the barricades. It also made me want to go back through Curtis’s body of work. It’s a wonderful experience that moves you intellectually and emotionally.

Leaving, once we made it past the barking guard dogs, I found the audience still engaged. People were talking about the performance more than just good and bad, people were trying to work out what they’d just seen. Score one for a filmmaker and music group that have managed to get a whole bunch of people off their asses and to move away from complacency.

The show plays through Friday the 4th at the Park Avenue Armory. If you can score tickets do yourself a favor and go.

Assuming this stays up it will give you a taste of what it's like- though the sound wasn't as deafening as this makes it appear

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