Tricky, Koko, London


Still tripping on the ghosts of the past

Tricky played two gigs in London one week in 1997 when he seemed touched by genius – playing crepuscular, original sounds, on stages so dark he could barely be glimpsed. In the years since, the man who illuminated Massive Attack's debut, Blue Lines (1991), and his own trip-hop classic Maxinquaye (1994) has gone through creative darkness, consumed by dope-fed paranoia, and making incoherent records from US exile. The excellent Knowle West Boy and this year's Mixed Race see him healed and home. He is even set to record again with Massive Attack. Rejuvenated, he has repudiated those gigs played in the shadows. "I'm comfortable in my own skin now, comfortable with being in the light," he's claimed. But with Tricky, such things are relative.

We first glimpse him in what look like white prophet's robes – actually baggy white trousers and a top he soon discards to show off his lithe body. On the spy movie-ominous "Past Mistake" he almost vanishes in blue-lit shadows, his voice a murky presence. "Oh, Jesus Christ... " are his first words. When he stamps his foot in frustration, clutching his head then shadow-boxing the ceiling, his old fears seem to assault him. The crowd are on pleasurable edge as with few current rock performers, as Tricky maps his unique psychic terrain. He grabs at his crotch, kneels for wordless prayers, and finishes in a proud strut across the stage.

It has been a magnetic few minutes, made from feral charisma and edgy musical surprise. The problem is Tricky can't keep it up. By "Overcome", he is already taking a cigarette break, smoke rising incriminatingly from the back of the stage, while female co-singer Franky Riley takes the strain. In his insouciant indifference to gig norms, he recalls The Fall's Mark E Smith (who left the building mid-set to have a smoke the last time he played here). It's the Bristol way, too, to share the effort, and take your time. Tricky's comfort throughout his career in deferring to female singers does him credit, in many ways. As with his coquettish, slow belly-dancing later, he has lost his macho fears. He shows off his toned body in a vulnerable, sensual way. His beautiful face adds to the androgynous aura of a man who grew up around inner-city poverty and violence. "I ain't no gang-banger," he sings, and few have flown further mentally from such pressures.

Another woman, his support act Terry Lynn, sings Motörhead's "Ace of Spades", the pretext for a friendly stage invasion intentionally recalling old gigs by Tricky's heroes The Specials. The man who has been a paranoid, damaged loner so long even goes down among the fans himself, as if finally desiring to be part of the crowd. The final moments are a riot of half-glimpsed sight and sound, Tricky leading swaying companions in swinging pencil-torches to sirens' shrieks. He seems as happy as he has ever been, when he can be seen. But the minutes where he prowls and growls across that stage alone are far too brief. After 16 years of stardom, Tricky's self-esteem is still too fragile for him to step into the spotlight.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before