||Makes me wanna
/ Nite Klub
||'I sell guns'
a review at Apocalypse Tricky (via the Way Back Machine):
|Review of Los Angeles Show|
El Ray Theater
January 25, 1997
Reviewed by aboo
We got there just in time. Unlike other shows I'd read about, this
Tricky show actually started more-or-less on time, around 9 PM. No
opening act, just a dj playing hip-hop. Jason Bentley, Quango's CEO and
electronic music dj for local station KROQ introduced Tricky, the
lights went down, and Tricky appeared, though with his back to the
audience. The opening beats to "Ponderosa" started up.
As others have noted, the set was definitely minimalist in conception
and execution. The spotlight never hit Tricky's face directly, though
Martina (yes, it WAS her) did have a filtered red spotlight of her own
(as did the various backing musicians).
What struck me about the show more than anything else was the sheer
intensity and volume of the songs -- songs which, let's face it, on CD
are much closer to ambient than punk. That fury really didn't get going
for me until either "Bad Dream" or "Sex Drive," both of which were
extended and pushed to their limits by a remarkably tight and pumped
back up band (especially the drummer).
It was an LA show, which meant it was an event in a town that is known
for its events. Its location, the El Rey Theater, is located on
Wilshire Blvd, in the heart of LA's "Miracle Mile," right down the
street from E! Entertainment Television's headquarters. A rather
wealthy area, to say the least, on the corner of Beverly Hills and
Westwood. The crowd, like the setting, was decked out in their hip-90s
fashion best (I won't even begin to describe, since I'm sure you all can
imagine what I mean anyways and I am absolutely no fashion critic,
which my t-shirt and jeans testified to). Unlike the stereotype of LA,
however, the crowd was big, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about
Tricky's music. They were there because, like us, they were fans.
The show started, as I said, with "Ponderosa," then went into
"Christiansands." Both familiar tunes that were pretty similar to their
record versions. From there things really started to heat up. "Sex
Drive" went for about 10 minutes, in a combination of sampler loops,
heavy drums, and Tricky's gesticulations -- which bear description.
Tricky and Martina don't exactly dance, but spontaneously move to the
sounds they're creating. Tricky, when he sings, either stands there and
grumbles into a microphone or (when things heat up) grumbles into a
microphone while rapidly moving his head from side-to-side, like he was
watching a tennis match played at light speed. It's hypnotic,
especially when the loops get harder and louder. Martina, on the other
hand, doesn't do much of anything when she is singing. The rest of the
time, however, she is shadow boxing with her tiny fists punching the air
or the sounds of the music as they leave the preamps.
Martina, by the way, was dressed in a one-piece red pajama thing that
was really baggy and made her look like she was ready for bed -- perfect
for the lighting (off-green, blue, and red back lights, with the odd
red or blue fore light that offered a glimpse of her face but not
Tricky's). Tricky was dressed in baggy trousers and some sort of long
underwear top: as anonymous as the lighting made him appear.
The music, yes: dynamite throughout, and only getting better and
stronger as the set went on (and on and on: show lasted over 2 hours).
Highlights, for me, were Martina's wonderful "Makes Me Wanna Die" and a
great impromptu rap by Tricky over "Ghetto Youth," in which he asked why
he was stuck in a nightclub where the beer tasted like piss.
"Suffocated Love" was excellent, too, although I think the acoustics
were set up for louder songs, not softer ones, so it did suffer a bit in
that regard. The one song I'd heard about, "Vent," didn't disappoint,
either, and was just as others have described.
I'm usually one to go on and on about the music, but I find myself at a
loss for words about this particular concert. Perhaps it's because it
was such an overwhelming experience I feel lost in the moment. Perhaps
it's because, as the show went on and on, and as the songs were extended
and stretched to their limits, I started to detect a certain sameness
to the performances, a sameness that reminded me more of rave or other
dance musics than hip hop in that it was created to transcend itself --
to push the music to its very limits in order to transcend those limits
in some weird catharsis. I guess the catharsis occurred for me when
"Vent" was finished and the band left the stage. The lights stayed off,
meaning an encore was eminent, but all of a sudden I woke up, looked
around, found the friend I came to the concert with, and realized I had
to drive back home (70 miles) even though I was exhausted, and I
wondered how my car was doing or whether it would still be there when I
left. Reality check. As a consequence, the encore didn't do it for me
the way the rest of the show did. Then again, that's not the music's
fault -- it was as wonderful as ever. It was just a case of reality
intervening on a perfectly surreal performance.
A Response to Aboo's View of Tricky at the El Ray
Good description of Tricky's head movements. I was there, too. Do you
know the names of any of the hip-hop music that the DJ was spinning
prior to the show? Especially the song that goes "if you find a bag of
weed on the floor, what the f*ck you gonna do?" You didnt mention the
Bowie song that accompanied Tricky's entrance...
Also, you didn't mention the (at least 3) NEW songs that Tricky played
at the El Rey show, including the one in the encore about "my first time
flying" and "turn around back to heathrow" which I thought was one of
the best songs of the night. Vent was, undoubtedly the finest
performance, though, starting off like a blues song and building up
speed while keeping a tight beat...
You also did not mention the copius amounts of alchohol that were being
consumed at the club.
Overall, it sounds like I enjoyed Tricky's show much more than you did.
Have you seen him before? If so, was he better/worse/the same?
PS: If anyone knows any of the hip-hop artists that the DJ was spinning
before the Tricky shows, please email me with the artist's name and
album/song title if you have it. Thanks.