London, UK (21.5.2013)
about 132 min
vocals: Tricky, Francesca Belmonte
This in an in-depth review taken from Titel Blog:
In Praise of False Idols - Tricky Live Heaven 21st May 2013.
Sometimes you just have to stand there and remind yourself that its not really the end of the world. It just sounds like it is! The beats are pummelling, the bass is humming, while the guitars are cranked up to ten, and a real air of tension and expectation has settled in the air. The hyped and over-eager audience roar their appreciation as Tricky strides confidently onto the stage with such a look of triumph that even the manliest of men gave a little swoon. This is the Tricky live experience! You had better be prepared. By JOHN BITTLES
New album False Idols has just been let out onto the streets to a wave of genuine affection and critical acclaim. It sees a seemingly chilled-out Tricky revisiting the sleek, sexy down-tempo grooves of his debut album Maxinquaye while moving away from the harsh paranoid style of his more recent releases. Songs such as Is That Your Life, Nothingís Changed and Nothing Matters sparkle with soul, R&B, and hip hop rhythms that mix elegantly with the spectral ghosts of dance to create something that sounds both powerful and resplendently dense. Among a host of guest vocalists new muse Francesca Belmonte proves a more than adequate foil to Trickyís lazily hushed raps.
False Idols is a soft and seductive listen that contains just enough of a jagged edge so that the listener canít help but treat it with respect. It has a grinding yet subtle quality that makes it as perfect for making out as for head nodding, walking the dog, or smoking spliff after spliff. In short it sees one of pop musicís most enigmatic stars return with some serious form.
Yet those who came along to witness the accompanying live show expecting a quiet night out were in for a bit of a shock, (which is a good thing of course). Opening with new track Does It and I Live Alone it quickly becomes apparent that for the live show Tricky has taken his previous rock leanings and created a furious and angry beast. Parenthesis, originally recorded with The Antlers, raises the tension even higher until it almost seems as if lightning has just struck and a thunderclap is about to boom. Hairs stand on end while mystics predict prophetic doom.
That there isnít overly much of Tricky himself in the show isnít that surprising when you hear the album he is promoting. He can seem a somewhat diminutive presence on the stage, his raspy vocals hide in the background while he appears more than happy to allow his fellow musicians to hog the limelight. Sometimes, he appears to embrace this ascetic so completely that it is almost as it he isnĎt even there. Luckily fellow vocalist Francesca Belmonte in accepting the vast majority of the vocal work proves she has more than enough stage presence and charisma to carry a gig this size without even breaking a sweat.
Yet itís the songs where the eager audience can actually hear and see Tricky that really lift the atmosphere in the room. Each audible rap is met with a glorious wave of noise and devotion. Banter is kept to a minimum with our star admitting that heís pretty õshyč. Chatter is mostly restricted to a humble »Thank you very, very, very much«. But to claim that this detracts from the spectacle of seeing the live show is completely missing the point since he has an unmistakable aura that makes even the tallest person crane their neck in an attempt to get a better view. His every movement and gesture is met with a huge chorus of cheers. At one point he even lifts up his top and I thought that some girls next to me were going to faint.
Black Steel, the only song played from Maxinquaye heralded the beginning of the completely uproarious encore that got the audience to reach a fever pitch. Pretty good going when you consider that Tricky himself hadnĎt even bothered to come back on stage. People like me missed him rasping »Many, switch in, switch on, switch off. Many switch in, switch on, switch off«, yet the vast majority of the audience didnít seem to notice or care. You couldnít help but imagine that he was standing outside smoking a crafty cig and cursing the smoking ban for keeping him away from all the fun. A few half-hearted cries of »You lazy bastard« were quickly drowned out by the general roar of approval as he strode back on to perform two more numbers Nothing Matters, and Vent.
This was just about as far from a greatest hits set as it was possible to get. There was no Aftermath, Hell is Round the Corner, Tricky Kid, or Makes Me Wanna Die which could well have been a disaster. And I would be lying if I said that I didnít miss these songs. But by leaving out most of the hits he was able to cast aside the burden of history and allow the new tracks to speak for themselves. They didnít need to compete with an overly glorified past and the gig was, in my opinion, all the better for it.
As the lights went up to signal the end of the show all the pent up adrenaline and euphoria began to dissipate from the room. A few people hugged each other in delight, others shuffled to the merchandise stall, while some just stood there with a glazed look of shocked ecstasy that I thought perfectly captured the mood. It did appear that the overall consensus from those departing the cavern-like depths of Heaven was that the gig should be considered a complete and utter success.
It seems now that Tricky has reached his tenth album with False Idols that he is finally beginning to take this whole musician thing seriously. Whereas before it sometimes appeared as if he saw success as a burden he was forced to bear he now seems confident, eager and hungry for more. The new album is lush while the accompanying live set-up is both thrilling and professional in the extreme. He seems completely focused on the stage, no longer the frightened or resentful rabbit of old, while his new partner Francesca is a vocalist of raw emotion and soul.
After a few
so, so albums it really is good for the world of music to have a rejuvenated
and revived Tricky back at the top of his game.