El Ray Theatre
Los Angeles, USA (25.01.97)
about 135 min
vocals: Tricky, Martina
Intro (T-Rex: Cosmic Dancer)
Sex drive
Makes me wanna die
Smoking beagles
Feed me
Ghetto Youth / Nite Klub
Bad dreams
'I sell guns' (partial)
Abbaon fat tracks
Don't wait on me

read 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
by Loppy

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.




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