Good? Bad? A Tricky question


Being the bass player for Tricky must be the most bor-ing job in the world. At least the drummer, at the deceptively named Brixton Fridge on Monday, got to muck about with some disorientated, stumbling beats. For the bassist, each song meant repeating the same simple pattern until exhaustion set in, while the guitarist's contribution to each song was to tune up.

Not that the musicians had any right to feel hard done-by. Vocalist Martina, her hair in Bjork-ish bunches, had few melodies to work with either, and Tricky's own raps sounded like long, Bob Fleming-style attempts to clear his throat. You need Tunes, mate - in more senses than one.

The dark prince of trip-hop had rearranged his songs for a new live band (tapes and samples were still left to do most of the work), but this concession to the medium could go only so far, given that there wasn't much there to rearrange in the first place: he seems to have made most of the noises on his new album, Pre-Millennium Tension (Island), by muttering to himself while banging and scratching a rusty pipe. Play the record at night with your headphones on, and at least half of the mantric songs will sound like claustrophobic, addictive soul music for the damned. Hear those same songs live, and they sound like some sort of steam-powered lawn-mower grinding to a halt. When he wasn't playing something from his stunning, seminal debut, Maxinquaye, the audience's mutter- ings nearly drowned out his own.

But Tricky doesn't care about his audience. Proving that the influence of the Gallaghers knows no bounds, he has replaced his dress and his make-up with an anorak. He rocks back and forth on his heels, both of his hands gripping the microphone for dear life, his eyes scrunched shut, focused completely on whatever strange beasties lurk inside his head. He follows his vision with total commitment - which is why he can be so thrilling, and also why he can be so dull.

Being in Sheryl Crow's band, on the other hand, must be quite fun. They get to play some decent bluesy-country rock songs. They get to try differ- ent instruments: a keyboard player can have a shot at percussion, a guitarist can switch to mandolin. And even though they're a shower of wet-behind- the-ears rent-a-musicians who chat among themselves all evening, they were rarely upstaged by the star of Tuesday's show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Maybe Crow spent too many years as a backing vocalist for the likes of Michael Jackson and Don Henley, but I did find myself wondering how a woman could have the longest legs in pop, a Judge Dredd jaw and hair that should star in a shampoo ad, and yet could still have no stage presence whatsoever; and how someone who writes deeply felt eulogies for people who have been cheated and let down by life can seem so distracted as she sings them.

Crow came to life only when she put down her guitar and ripped into an emotional "Run, Baby, Run", complete with a cod-jazz extended cadence to finish. Three songs later, however, her ennui returned, ensuring in the process that the show could never be more than fairly satisfactory. In future she should play fewer songs, and try to look as if she's enjoying herself. Oh, and she should ask that Clapton bloke, who livened up the encores, to play for the whole set.

Erasure, finally, didn't have any band at all, a pair of backing vocalists excepted. Vince Clarke just pressed a button on his Tardis-like control- console every now and then, and the spangly techno pumped out of its own accord. No change there, then. The surprise was not the absence of musicians from the Forum on Wednesday, but the absence of swans, giant Venus Flytraps, hot-air balloons and inflatable snails. This was Erasure's low-key, low-budget "Tiny Tour" (they're back in venues the size of caravan sites next year), which meant that we had to make do with a mirrorball, a kaleidoscopic lightshow, a bubble machine, a tangle of light-emitting cables and an under-rated soul singer who wears, in turn, a clinging, strappy evening dress (which should really stay in the wardrobe until he does something about that stomach), a pair of camouflage pyjamas, and a floor-sweeping, yellow fake-fur coat.

Moving as if someone had poured half a dozen eels down his trousers, Andy Bell quickly whipped up the Forum into a festive office party, and "Oh, L'Amour" and "A Little Respect" acquitted themselves admirably against Erasure's versions of disco's finest moments: Abba's "Take a Chance on Me" and Blondie's "Heart of Glass" ("I Will Survive" would have completed the triumvirate). All in all, a triumphant return to the days when it was club records that had the big, singalong melodies and indie records that took a while to get used to.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Development Engineer

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of fl...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Operative - Oxfordshire / Worcestershire - OTE £30k

    £12000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Sales Operative is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

    £12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders