Tricky may have been a hot commodity back in 1994 when Trip Hop was the current rage, but in 2011, the sparse crowd at The Powerstation proved that his pulling power has diminished over the years. Judging by his performance, the fans who stayed away probably made the right move.
The Knowle West Boy took the stage at 9:30 with his four-piece band (Kelly Appleton, guitar, Sara Farina, bass, Gareth Bowan, keys, plus a drummer, who was excellent, but unknown) along with vocalist Francesca Belmont. Tricky spent the first few minutes on the darkened stage taking off his shirt, revealing a very buff torso. Unfortunately it seemed that Tricky had spent more time in the gym than on his music. The band cranked through a selection of tunes, sounding like generic rock, with Belmont handling most of the vocals. Tricky came to the mic a few times, but spent a good portion of the show with his back to the audience, in front of the keyboards, smoking a fag…or something. About halfway into the hour-long set the band kicked in to a rather pedestrian version of Motorhead’s The Ace Of Spades. Punters were invited on stage to dance along, and this rather pointless exercise went on for about ten minutes.
The second half of the show seemed more focussed on atmospheric trance grooves, but Tricky himself still seemed more interested in hanging out with the keyboard player, occasionally pointing to the drummer or guitarist to give them direction. Francesca Belmont was left to carry the show, and although her voice is OK, she mainly stared at the floor while singing, not engaging with the crowd much at all. After just over an hour, Tricky took his time putting his shirt back on and the band left the stage. They returned for two encore tunes and Tricky took the opportunity to finally speak to the crowd…plugging a book a friend had written. The final song came with another opportunity to fill the stage with audience members. Unfortunately, the music was not particularly dance-worthy, and everyone looked pretty uncomfortable. Tricky himself left the stage, walked through the audience and sat at the bar…show over.
A few notable songs were performed…Black Steel, Overcome…but Tricky himself rarely took part. One of the few highlights was Ghetto Stars, from his newest album, Mixed Race. But the combination of muddled sound (vocals too low in the mix), bad lighting (way too dark) and a front man who insisted on staying in the back made for a frustratingly unsatisfying evening.
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