Tricky – Sundance Festival, The Indigo Bar, London – 27/4/12
Utterly dire support notwithstanding, the evening’s inception should have been interpreted as a morbid portent of the evening to come. The opening track wobbled its way through for approaching ten minutes, vocals sporadically taking place when he remembered to put the microphone in front of the guitarists’ face; the pace and dynamics varying wildly as our eponymous frontman attempts some bizarre interpretation of conducting; resulting more in what appeared to be a shit impression of John Travolta. And maintaining that you “know we’re waiting for Maxinquaye stuff” then moaning that “it’s all really old” claims the dubious crown of most ill-advised stage banter ever.
With the appearance of Martina, things almost approach decent. Ponderosa and Abbaon Fat Tracks writhe wonderfully in a sense of their own filth, Aftermath remains as satisfyingly bleak as ever, and Black Steel manages to ignite what enthusiasm can still be drawn from an increasingly irritable crowd. Then it pretty much degenerates into a farce.
Overcome gets successfully aired, then for reasons unbeknownst to anyone gets started again two songs later. Brand New You’re Retro descends into Britain’s Got Talent meets Goldie Lookin’ Chain; Tricky’s brother freestyling what appears to be absolute bollocks for ten minutes. Hell is Round the Corner is genuinely appalling; the Isaac Hayes sample being vomited out by what sounds like a Casio keyboard demo; and Pumpkin’s Alison Goldfrapp spot seems to have been filled by Tulisa from N-Dubz (although thankfully without a penis in her mouth). The realisation sinks in that not only has Mr Thawes spent more time off stage than on, but that he clearly couldn’t care less either way.
Sympathy must go out to the band; what with the mock conducting, the bollocking of the drummer for starting a song (what a bastard), and the borderline domestics that frequently erupt between Tricky and Martina – all of which consolidate to create one of the most unprofessional gigs seen since the ‘Roses at Reading in 1996.
Four songs from Maxinquaye don’t even get played, and the reputation of said album is being shat on from a great height through the complete lack of respect for the music and the fans that have paid £40 to witness such a monstrosity. A twenty minute (twenty) rendition of Vent from Pre-Millennium Tension is the crowning turd in the waterpipe, failing to endear the crowd (despite seemingly half of them being on stage throughout) and leading to a mass exodus the likes of which have not witnessed before with a headline act.
A continually absent frontman and a completely humiliated band leave the lingering and increasingly bitter taste of an utterly shambolic fucking display of gargantuan proportions. Still, it must be the easiest money he has ever made. Hopefully he feels suitably ashamed, however unlikely that is.