London, Astoria
Set List: Blondie / She said / Christian Sands / For Real / Karma Koma / Ponderosa / Bom Bom Diggy / Overcome / Hot Like A Sauna / Black Steel
TRUST HIM to do it differently. Bristol’s most diffidently (in)famous son has spent his career to date dallying with the devil on his dark side and now, having reached those crossroads, Tricky is striding off down the path marked "Mainstream".
   His follow-up to the thrillineg fractured (and largely unpopular) Angels With Dirty Faces, Juxtapose (see review pl 16) is easily his most accessible record yet. It shows time spent in America, but not in its absorption of underground hip hop, as you might expect, but of alt-rock of the most heavily armoured kind. Tricky, it seems, is now down with Marilyn Manson, Korn, Limp Bizkit and anyone who rocks the insanely
lucrative, black-clad, teen-metal house. Rather less currently, he also seems to be down with Rage Against The Machine.
   It’s absurd to suggest that Tricky’s made a conscious decision to turn himself into a viable rock concern — you can accuse the man of a lot of things, but creative cynicism isn’t one of them. Rather, having made music which has become progressively darker and heavier, he’s just found the one place left to go that’s darker’and heavier. And by God, he’s there tonight. Kitted out not in a sarong or knitted dress or any one of his other startling get-ups, but suitably manly vest (soon discarded) and combat pants, Tricky prowls the stage in front of his bunch of hired hands, grovding, barking and generally bringing up aesthetic bile against a relentless wall of beats filthy and ferocious enough to make Pantera sound like a bunch of pansies. The guitarist (head-to-toe black garb, splayed leg stance) gives the game away early on with his quasi-industrial rifting and even vocalist
Kioka Williams, a welcome melodic foil for Tricky's almost gutteral rhyming, can’t manage to pull the set backfrom the sub-metal brink.
   True to live form, Tricky leads extended, hypnotic workouts which drop in recognisable snatches of songs rather than plays them straight from start to finish, and the roar that goes up when the crowd recognises Ponderosa, Karma Koma and Overcome indicates that they’re looking for a life raft amid the mercilessly pulverising, rhythmic repetition. Even Black Steel is slowed down to a one-dimensional thud, while you half expect new track Bom Bom Diggy to erupt with a chorus of "Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me." Only the molten funk of Hot Like A Sauna and perky new single For Real (which suggests Tricky’s been listening to
Nirvana’s In Utero) provide breathing space in this metal machine room.
   Maybe it takes a real maverick to turn things so completely arse about, and Tricky’s relationship with American alt-rock may eventually be a deep and meaningful one, but on this evidence, it’s hard not to hope it's just a one-night stand.

Sharon O’Connell

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photo: ???

from:  Mojo (unknown date, 1999)

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