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Tricky, Maxinquaye: Live – Manchester

“I drink ‘til I’m drunk”. Maybe we all have something in common.

Warrington, I missed my stop. Luckily I met a nice pair of ladies in Lizzy and Jenni (note. A soft Scottish voice that melts in your mouth). They gave me a little bit of rolo on the train on the way to Warrington. Warrington has a prison of a shopping centre across the way from the train station. You don’t want to hear about that, but I do wonder what Tricky would think of that monstrosity, if I get the chance I will ask.

Letter from the government the other day? (‘Black Steel’) They don’t send them out any more because they would get too many ‘fuck you’s, picture me giving a damn’ (‘Black Steel’). There we are, that’s why they can’t openly conscript anymore as they would get too many fragments of spit in their faces. Tricky and co. represent the peoples that may have realised that truth, after fighting a war over confused lands, being ripped to shreds in housing and inequality indices, and soaring numbers of unemployment. A generation of peoples who were willing to stand up saying fuck you to the criminal justice system.

Topley Bird: a bright masked, smoky-eyed catwoman who ties the bow to Tricky’s cape

Trip-hop for the 90’s gave the subculture some water to hurl the other way at the establishment, but this time it wasn’t coming out of a water canons in Northern Ireland. Lines, rhymes and tone encapsulates all that is Maxinquaye. Tricky; a mischievous grin and a born-to-sell-records set of shoulders, one of Bristol’s infamous rawly harnessed talents. Martina Topley Bird: a bright masked, smoky-eyed catwoman who ties the bow to Tricky’s cape.

It seems that Tricky may have been trapped, poached and put in a position where he can only laugh openly at establishment. A wordsmith of creative vocabulary that existentialises his anger and subverted being, he put himself in the lion's den of the music industry and poured his lyrical arsenal towards himself and towards the powers that be. Imagine if he had been a politician (after all they’re all self-loaving, spread with jam types that are wordsmiths of a different sort).

He’s not distorted or reworked by the music industry, he’s been openly put on a platform of counterculture stardom and was exulted by Island Records, giving him the toys of the music industry to play with and the support needed to produce an album like Maxinquaye.

And it was definitely worth it.

The trip-hop sound that came out of the early 1990s merged the popular culture of Pulp, Oasis and Blur in a drive-by wave of drug-infused lyrical hysteria in the form of Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead. I think I’m more normal than most, but wearing the devil’s advocate hat is a personal favourite of mine. It’s like Tricky has missed the mental hospital and the young offenders institute, developed a voice of real meaning and feeling that can be emphasised and recognised, but is still saying conform and play music instead. You can laugh at life and become a likely lad of the music industry because its all there for you.

he fell to the sidelines: caned, messed up, and not wanting to be there

Last night, Topley-Bird stood out like the tallest guy at a gig; sparkling and sexy she carried Tricky on her wings as he fell to the sidelines: caned, messed up, and not wanting to be there. He had lost his lines, rhymes, and brain on stage, giving the stage an awkward paradigm and the illusion of confusion. Topley-Bird, if she is trying to raise her profile again, will certainly do it with these performances. And she will have it raised for all the right reasons.

Topley-Bird seems an emphatic young lady willing to wear a true smile on her face nearly throughout the gig. As Tricky touched himself up and at times waved aimlessly out of the drop time with his band, when they finally caught on and dropped, it did start to move the crowd, which was good to see.

I wondered why at times I felt like I was the only one dancing towards the bar, but, as it was kindly pointed out to me by my friend C, I may have been the youngest in the place. It felt like a gig where dancing to the bar may have been a little too much, but did manage to ripple a little bit to my fellow gig goers as they tried to relive their 90’s heyday (that was being set on fire by Topley-Bird and pissed on by Tricky). Topley-Bird is a true professional, propping up a man that obviously has complications.

She was inspirational in her solo effort to make this gig; £25 a head with many punters that were obviously of a calibre that knew Maxinquaye front to back. But not Maxinquaye started, interrupted by a couple of random lads in baseball hats, then carried on (with Tricky forgetting his parts so Topley-Bird had to sing the chorus on her own with the crowd), and then eventually left to the band to fend for themselves and play on their own, jamming as if they had been in their living room.

Topley-Bird is a true professional, propping up a man that obviously has complications

A few boos at the end from the back of the stage and maybe one half empty pint on the stage after the performance had finished – and the stage was clear. Typical chickenshit behaviour from bullies standing at the back of the venue and lacking in bollocks to chuck a full pint half way through the gig. I think these performances, viz., Bristol, London, and Manchester are going to be talked about for a wee while: the first time in 15 years that Topley-Bird and Tricky have gotten together, and performances that resembled a hurricane.

I managed to grab Topley-Bird for only a few lines. I asked her whether she would have a laissez-faire gabble about the gig, she started to talk, then one of her entourage said its probably best not to do an interview tonight. Fair enough, but I did find out that she liked Manchester. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to chat to Tricky about what he thought of the prison of a shopping centre across the way from the train station in Warrington. Next time.


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