If your creative arsenal includes having a bit of attitude and being brought up in not-brilliant circumstances on a council estate, chances are you’ll end up rapping or rocking away your urban angst in the manner of Dizzee or the Gallaghers. Not so Tricky, who wrestled the deep, dark stuff from posh kids like Radiohead and exited Knowle West in Bristol in the company of trip-hop (yeah we know they hate that word) royalty Massive Attack.

Back in the UK after extended R'n'R in LA, and playing his first London gig in five years, its clear the California sunshine has done nothing to brighten Tricky’s mood – or turn him into a ‘Rudebox’-touting Robbie Williams-style goon. Good.

He slithers on stage in a murk of deep magenta and dark green lighting, then alternately smoulders and ignites through the set. This is a show of two halves. Half his time he’s got his back to the audience, absent-mindedly tweaking bits of the drum kit, while breathy co-vocalist Francesca carries the set. For the rest of the time, he’s lurching and barking like a Tourette’s-afflicted fire and brimstone preacher, his death rattle whisper of a voice howling out enough pain to fuel an entire Friday 13th franchise.

Musically it morphs like quicksilver through death metal, black-as-midnight electronica and soaring, cinematic strings. Quirky covers of the Cure’s ‘Lovecats’ and current single, Kylie’s ‘Slow’, lighten the mood but tonight it’s all about the darkness. And, as the crowd rises in a standing ovation as he leaves the stage following a smouldering, crescendoing encore, we're not complaining.


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Commenting On: Barbican, London, 6/10/2008 - Tricky

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