Tricky was back performing on Later last week. Stripped to the waist, his torso covered in hieroglyphics (in addition to the underlying tattoos), and with hair which sprung pineapple-style only from the top of his otherwise shaven scalp, he resembled – presumably was intending to resemble – nothing so much as a native American. But the war cry delivered by this Iroquois or Apache was called ‘Council estate’.
I could take or leave the music, which leaned a little too much towards the electro-metallic for my taste (though it sounds less like punky Hawkwind in its recorded form), but he remains the convincing, deeply focussed, pugilist performer he revealed himself to be on the same show thirteen years ago. Then you could almost see inside of Tricky, see the exact point from which the dark articulations of ‘Black Steel’ and ‘Suffocated Love’ were emanating; not because he was being invitingly transparent, but because he was forcibly sucking you in.
Back then I thought he would gradually retreat into the studio, the role of producer being the ideal way to extricate himself from the diminishing returns of his records (though each has had at least something going for it). But that was to underestimate the force of his character, which subsumes both the natural awkwardness / awkward naturalness of his rhythms and the uncharitable bleakness of his sound. My guess is that Tricky needs to put himself in the line of fire. And this time around, with a roots-referencing album entitled Knowle West boy, his battling will be serviced by Domino’s bespoke career rescue service.