Orán Mór, Glasgow
4th November 2021
Tricky delivers a dark and moody set at Glasgow’s Orán Mór. Rhys Delany covers for Louder Than War.
On November 4th 2021 Tricky brought a mysterious stage show to Orán Mór in Glasgow. Orán Mór, formally a parish church with a name meaning ‘great melody of life’, is located next to Glasgow’s famous botanical gardens, which have been hosting the annual Glasglow event meaning that the sky around the church was illuminated. In the downstairs music space of Orán Mór the lights were dim and made darker around the set time of 20:15.
Tricky is an artist known for interesting live shows and is sometimes accused of not really delivering the best performance of his music. The last time a Tricky live show was written about on this website it was described as ‘shambolic’. And so the first ten minutes of pure darkness and an empty stage certainly raised a few eyebrows. However, the band slowly emerge and the voice of the recently deceased Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is played over the speakers as the recently released, Atmosphere, is played out nicely.
Tricky then arrives centre stage, with his back turned to the audience, backlit by two large blue lights on either side of the stage. Tricky and co-vocalist Marta Zlakowska move into the soft opening of Thinking Of, the opener of the recent album Fall To Pieces (2020). My expectations pre-show were that he’d present songs from his most recent albums, which would not have been a bad thing. However, the next two songs are taken from the slightly older albums Skilled Mechanics (2016) and False Idols (2013). Tricky starts to get more into things, his movements are passionate and erratic as he points at different musicians in his backing group signalling when they should play, when to stop and when to bring the tempo back up.
Some of the songs, such as I’m Not Going, really bring a heaviness into things whereas many of the more recent songs are much slower and were perhaps not as enjoyed as much by some of the audience members. A surprise inclusion to the setlist was Overcome, from debut album Maxinquaye (1995), which saw Marta Zlakowska taking full vocal responsibility as Tricky strangely, but not out of character, leaves the stage. Things started to get a little worrying, as this could be one of the infamous cut-short ‘shambolic’ gigs. This is made even more worrying as after the song the rest of the band leave the stage. There was a lot of murmuring and heckling as the crowd stood, yet again, in pure darkness and this was only half an hour into the show. Perhaps this was a technical issue, who knows, but whatever the issue, it seems to be rectified as the band eventually return to the stage and launch into Parenthesis and eventually Tricky made his way back on stage.
It is safe to say the gig started to feel like an ‘us vs them’ scenario. There was a strong contingent of the audience that perhaps expected a different kind of Tricky performance as they talk and shout over the quieter moments of the set. And they regularly, and quite rightly get told to shut up by other audience members. Tricky then powered into, what felt like an impromptu inclusion of Hell Is Round The Corner, which I feel may have been done to quell the dissenters but this still didn’t stop some from loudly talking over a minimalist rendition of Fall Please which was one of many examples of Marta Zlakowska’s sublime contribution to Tricky’s music. It’s hard to find any work of her own online, but her recent contributions to Tricky’s work has been some of the best work of his career and she certainly put on a great show, even if some people were not as receptive.
Another surprise inclusion was Vent, from the album Pre-Millenium Tension (1996). Which showcased Tricky’s style of onstage mixing. Clearly, this song was being better received by the audience and as such Tricky wanted to keep things going by bringing in and out the guitars, the vocals and the drums and keeping the song going for as long as possible. Then once this song was over, the band left the stage again, presumably for the end of the set. There were still shouts for songs such as ‘Ponderosa’ and other requests and a fair bit of cheering and clapping. The set had now been around an hour, but with no support still felt a little short so the inclusion of an encore was pleasantly welcomed. The band returned, Tricky did not, which left Marta singing solo, and again the crowd murmuring started to drown the song out, and again resulted in a lot of shouting between audience members.
Tricky came back onstage and joined Marta for a strong rendition of Take Me Shopping which he ends by thanking the crowd and wishing everyone goodnight. This is, however, not the end. Again we were left staring at an empty stage in pure darkness, and to be fair most of the crowd that wasn’t really into the performance had left by now and then the band, and Tricky return yet again for one last song, The Only Way, which again is played for longer than the studio version and then Tricky says his goodbyes for good.
Overall the gig had many standard Tricky tropes. It was moody and dark, Tricky did his usual speak-sing and half-whispered style and there was a lot of what felt like improvised moments. The sort of thing that can only be captured live. With the technical glitches and multiple encores, the show went on for around an hour and a half and was far from shambolic.
Photo credit: Erik Wiess