Euphonious Fridays (Saturday Edition) – Unfinished Sympathy

Robert Del Naja (3D) and Grant Marshall (Daddy G), with Horace Andy in the background

Yeah, so it’s Saturday now.  Uploading large videos in Iqaluit isn’t exactly how I wanted to spend two hours of my life due to errors, but c’est la vie.

In honour of it being just over a year since I first saw the band that inspired the name of my blog live, I decided I would feature one of my favourite songs by Bristol-based Massive Attack – “Unfinished Sympathy”.  One of the reasons I chose this over another was that I managed to snag a video of this song from the concert.  And because this song has been named one of the best songs of all time by numerous European media sources.  What’s wrong with you North America?!?

So back on May 9 of 2010, Ian and I had the very good fortune of checking out the Massive Attack tour as it passed through the Sound Academy in Toronto.  We both recall it being colder than it should have been that day.  We stood in line freezing our tushes off, listening to some dude who was parked on the cul-de-sac by the club blasting Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” and other classics.  All the while, we remarked on the varying ages of people attending the show…we thought we were gonna be the Oldie Oldersons of the bunch, but there were a couple in their 50s that were standing around us too.  Very cool.  I was overly worried that security was going to snag my camera before I got in, as there had been rumours on some message boards that the club did that – though it appeared to be on a show by show basis.  If the band didn’t care, then neither did the venue.  Thankfully that was the case, as I managed to get some amazing pictures that night – which I am obviously going to be sharing with you.  What good blog host wouldn’t??


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Shara Nelson

“Unfinished Sympathy” was released waaaaay back in 1991 on the album Blue Lines.  It features singer Shara Nelson whose amazing vocals layer nicely over the strings and samples.  To hear it live was a phenomenal experience – so rarely do I see a band where the music is reproduced so accurately, so beautifully live in comparison to the recorded album.


Shara is just one of many vocalists that have graced core members Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall and Andrew Vowles (who is no longer with the group) with their presence.  Throughout the course of their five full length albums, not including best of compilation Collected, their singles box set or the soundtrack for Danny the Dog (known as Unleashed in the US starring Jet Li), they’ve attracted a huge number of singers to sing over their tracks.  These include Horace Andy (a contributor to all of their albums), Neneh Cherry, Tricky, Tracey Thorn (of Everything But The Girl), Sarah Jay, Elizabeth Fraser (of the Cocteau Twins), Sinead O’Connor, Mos Def, Damon Albarn (of Blur), Tunde Adebimpe (of TV on the Radio), Martina Topley-Bird (who has worked extensively with Tricky), and Guy Garvey (of Elbow).  As you can see from the pictures, some of the past vocalists come back to tour with the band live.

There has been a lot of debate over the actual song lyrics and what it’s about.  From the recorded material and the live versions that I have, this is the best estimation I can make for the lyrics.  Interpret as you like.

I know that I’ve been mad in love before
And how it could be with you
Really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
How can you have a day without a night?
You’re the book that I have opened
And now I’ve got to know much more

The curiousness of your potential kiss
Has got my mind and body aching
Really hurt me baby, really cut me baby
How can you have a day without a night?
You’re the book that I have opened
And now I’ve got to know much more

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I’m missing every part

Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I’m missing every part

The video for this song was one of the first to employ the use of a continuous shot.  It has been imitated quite often, including The Verve’s video for “Bittersweet Symphony”…ironic, no?
Here’s a couple more videos from the concert we attended, including the full length version of “Unfinished Sympathy”.  The audio is quite distorted since we were right in the front and it was loooooud.  You can probably even hear me screaming at points.  Yup.  That’s me.
This is a clip from “Karmacoma”.  I’m screaming in this one too.  😉

One thought on “Euphonious Fridays (Saturday Edition) – Unfinished Sympathy

  1. Pingback: Euphonious Fridays – Lippy Kids « Massively Attacked

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