Smokin’ Hot Tricky
If, like me, you’ve been suffering from a mild case of mid winter blues recently, then you might find that a heavy dose of Tricky is the answer – not because his music is in any way hopeful but his ritual on stage is so captivating, the theatre and spectacle so bewildering that you’ll walk out smiling – trust me.
At 41, but in many ways still the “Kid” of old, Tricky looks to be a man back on the top of his game. Much of this gig though rests on the shoulders of his co-singer Francesca who delivers vocals flawlessly and his band who dish out baselines and drumbeats with such severity there’s not a head in the crowd that isn’t motioning along with them.
Two songs in, and like a boxer ringside – Tricky derobes and punches the air, now twitching as if in the middle of an exorcism he bellows out the Past Mistake lyrics, chanting “I hope Jesus comes!” It’s brilliant and accomplished and in every way emotional.
As in past gigs though, he is happy to skulk around in the darkness as Francesca assumes control on stage. Tricky, meanwhile, is flouting the law. Smoking with his back to the crowd by the drum kit he nods in unison with his band. Indeed it is Tricky himself who is the first to accept that for large pockets of this show it’s not about him, that Francesca holds the reigns in parts and that he always runs the risk of being carted off stage.
“In Sweden they are not having it, they say i’ll get arrested, and go straight to jail, now with the smoking ban everyone is on you, but I’m lucky I can walk off stage,” he says, smoking backstage in his dressing room before the gig.
As the gig progresses Tricky ventures from old to new playing tracks like Vent from Pre-Millennium Tension, as well as newer songs from his 8th album Knowle West Boy, after almost every song there’s a short “thank you” as he sparks up again and drifts off into the background for a few minutes of composure. The energy he gives on stage during songs like Girls is so brutally intense – it’s as if he depends on those quiet moments away from the limelight.
In the final hour of the show though, there’s more of Tricky, this time he orchestrates Francesca and the band as they flutter in and out of cover songs, such as Motorhead’s Ace of Spades and The Cure’s The Love Cats.
He closes with a fiercely good rendition of the Tricky Kid and even demands that the lighting crew illuminate the stage for that one.
By his own admission Adrian Thaws has mellowed a lot over the years – but on stage tonight he’s everything but mellow – this was an agonizingly good performance, full of energy and soul and one that for a while lifted me out of the seemingly relentless winter gloom.
Tricky will now head across the pond for his biggest tour to date in the US.
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