Massive Attack 'Unfinished Sympathy'
Massive Attack, The Arena, Wednesday
Both of Pula's big festivals, Dimensions and its parent Outlook, are incredibly lucky to be able to use the city's Roman amphitheatre as a venue for their opening concerts. This is perhaps one of the most spectacular performance spaces you will ever visit and the likes of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Elton John and Manu Chao have played here. Hundreds of concert goers congregate in the pit, but many more still watch from the terraces, surely making the spectacle just as impressive for the performer as the audience.
Dimensions really pulled it out of the bag this year with their most impressively billed opener to date. American saxophonist and ensemble leader Kamasi Washington kicked things off with a set that was flowing with funk and grooves and at times wild with jazz. Headliners Massive Attack were up next and provided a set that was stunning in the visual aspect and at times heartwrenching in its message. Heavily political, it was thought-provoking and motivating, but like a two and a half hour movie at the cinema it certainly wasn't something you'd be advised to try and revel in after sinking several pints of beer. Plenty of their 'hits' were missing from the show and uplifting moments were sparse, but the correct translation to Croatian of their messages appearing throughout on a video screen backdrop was a nice touch (even if over half the festival audience couldn't understand it). After the dub and downbeat drenched bulk of the show 'Unfinished Sympathy' sounded almost as glorious as it did when sung by original vocalist Shara Nelson.
It was a big ask for any DJ to follow these two seasoned live performers and within moments of taking the stage Detroit's Moodymann acknowledges that he's far from the world's most 'shit hot' DJ. And perhaps that's why it works? Instead of losing some of the crowd with a specialist set, he tours his record collection, rapidly switching tempos and occasionally addressing the vast audience on a mic between tracks. The eclecticism and relaxed approach provides a levity lacking all night and the audience laps up his selections which are, as you'd expect, all on point and cover soul, hip hop, reggae, funk, disco and house.
Red Axes 'Sun My Sweet Sun'
Dan Shake, Midland boat party, Friday
Thursday was the true start of proceedings on the main site and Moodymann again provided another great selection, as did fellow Detroit artists Kyle Hall and Marcellus Pittman, with The Moat area being another highlight as it showcased Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and DJ Qu. But it was an early rise for Mixmag on Friday to catch the first boat trip of the day, so we kept a lid on it. The aforementioned boat featured Andrew Hill from fantastic Liverpool night Abandon Silence plus Dan Shake and Midland. Andrew seemed to have brought a large, very vocal fan club all of his own and played great records, as did the other DJs. Ranging from disco through house to techno is Midland's forte, but his fellow DJs matched the mood perfectly and this trippy disco bomb, dropped by Dan Shake, sounded as perfect in the sunshine as it would in the darkened small hours.