November 29 at Lille Vega
Trip-hop is a genre of electronic music spawned in the aftershocks of the UK’s acid house culture of the early 1990s, with significant rooting in the city of Bristol. Fusing influences of hip-hop and electronica with doses of rock for good measure, trip-hop is eclectic, trippy, and experimental in its purest form.
Indeed it was these three tenets that punctuated Tricky’s concert at a haze-filled Lille Vega on Friday night, as the godfather of the genre himself gave a show that didn’t well and truly get airborne but nonetheless offered a distinct musical experience.
Tricky (née Adrian Thaws) was one of the driving forces behind the legendary act Massive Attack, whose music continues to demarcate the most poignant moments of movie soundtracks today, almost two decades after they rose to fame. His forays with Massive Attack led him to branch out as a solo musician, enjoying chart success with albums such as 1995’s Maxinquaye, whose heights he never quite managed to recapture over a consistent tradition of album releases through the years thereafter.
Playing to a crowd predominantly in their 30s, Tricky walked onto the Vega stage sporting his familiar bare-chested look flanked by his backing band in low-lit, smoky confines, emphasizing the shamanic quality that characterizes his live shows.
An eerie, almost intoxicating start found a rather quiet Tricky confining himself to one side of the stage, even turning his back to the audience on many occasions. Tricky elicited a strong response from the audience with ‘Black Steel’, a riveting revolutionary tune off Maxinquaye that seemed to denote a welcome change of pace midway through. This was however short-lived as technical glitches shot down the track in mid air, prompting a switch to another song.
Tricky seemed unfazed by this and oblivious to the world around him in his corner of the stage, surrounded by a maze of swirling smoke and clearly on a superlative high of his own. The audience then joined the experimentation as a good 20 or so frontrunners got the opportunity to clamber on stage for a couple of songs. Come the end, a noncommittal applause for a curtain call was the audience’s way of responding to a dull and unconvincing performance.
Tricky re-appeared and like Shantel before him on Wednesday at the same venue, performed a few good songs to round off the concert, an eclectic, trippy and experimental performance that called for an acquired taste. There’s no doubting Tricky’s contribution to British music nor his talents as a pioneer in electronic music, but Friday’s show left much to be desired and lacked the spark and creativity of his earlier career.