Background on what will from here on out be referred to as ‘The Great Tricky Experience of 2010‘:
I spoke to MOG a while ago about getting to the Tricky show to take some photos, and it took a while for a response to come back. Not from MOG, but I believe from the tour manager (who is very nice, btw). So, there I was on Sunday morning minding my own business, sitting on my couch at home doing nothing, when I got the email: I could shoot Tricky that evening.
Sweet! I got up, got dressed and got into the car for the next three hours, playing only Tricky the whole way. (Side note: I live in what is turning out to be something of a musical void: Every place to catch a good concert is at minimum 2 hours away. Not a huge problem, just makes me miss Baltimore more than normal)
Being in a car for that long (and alone) gives a person plenty of time to think. This would be my first Tricky concert. I wondered what kind of draw Tricky has here in Germany, what the lighting would be like (of course), what he’d play. Moreso, HOW he’d play it. I thought this because listening to the music, I realized that a good 80% of my favorite Tricky songs have female vocals. Would I get to see Martina (Topley Bird) again? Maybe I’d get lucky and see Costanza? Maybe the new voice from the newest album? Would he even bother to bring a woman at all? I’d just seen Martina at Southside in June with Massive Attack and figured she wouldn’t be ready to go back on a full tour immediately.
I imagined a big venue that rivaled the Southside/Massive Attack show, with a random female voice (possibly more).
I made amazing time for the distance I drove, and then I made up for it by spending nearly an hour looking for parking. It turns out that this place Stollwerck was in between a residential area and a highway… so, the pickings were few (and I mean, rullllll few). The driving around worked out though, I got a great spot a few blocks away.
I got inside about an hour early and took some time getting to know the place… It was really small. Not a closet, but the only places I could compare it to were Ramshead On Stage and the 9:30 club in DC: Seriously, it was the size of a normal restaurant, no bigger and with no upper deck.
This wasn’t a problem (actually, kind of a good thing), but I expect that for smaller acts like the Sounds (who I have seen at the 9:30 club, btw) or Regina Spektor. It’s not what I’d expect for Tricky. I wasn’t hoping for a stadium, I guess I just expected something bigger. But hey, this was great because that meant I could stand just about anywhere and get a good shot. I tested all of the cameras (I brought three, I learned my lesson with Broken Social Scene a while back and was sparing NO dignity this time around) and then got a coke from the bar (I was planning ahead, it would be a three hour drive AFTER the concert, too) and settled into my usual location: front right of the stage.
I noticed there were 2 mics on the stage and decided that meant he’d definitely brought someone. I also wondered who the opener was. I went out and bought a t-shirt (my new favorite band t-shirt for the record… the Sounds shirt has been grudgingly ousted by the Tricky shirt) and was told by the t-shirt girl that the opener is usually a DJ, but that the guy was in an accident the day before, so we’d only get Tricky tonight. Good to know.
I went back to my front right location and thought how sad this was: the door clearly stated that the concert began at 9, and by 9:30 there were maybe 50 people there. I was totally getting depressed by Germany’s apparent disrespect for the man and for music in general. I mean, this is TRICKY. These guys have no idea how well they have it, we never get to see him in the states!!! Yes, this time he’s on a world tour, but usually, I mean. You know what I mean.
So I was standing there, wondering when Tricky would come on (it was definitely AFTER start time at this point), when a girl standing near me asked me about my camera. We got to talking (in German) about why I was there and my cameras, and she said that her boyfriend (currently at the bar buying drinks) is a blogger and maybe if it was ok, he could source my photos of the show on his blog?
Totally cool, I said, no problem! That would be awesome. So then the boyfriend comes back. Their names are Thorben and Mareice. Thorben runs a blog called Tricky Nerd and he’s a bit of a serious fan. They at first appeared to just be following Tricky around Germany, but then Thorben told me that actually, Tricky found out about his blog and gave him tickets to like, ALL of the shows in Europe. No joke. They’ve never met. This was the second show they’d seen from the current tour.
[Edit: I've been corrected: THIS TIME the Tricky Nerd only got tickets to two shows, and it was in 2008 that Tricky gave him guest lists +3 to all of the Germany shows]
So we exchanged cards just as stuff was starting to happen onstage. We turned our attention and finally the show started. And holy hell, it was great.
Tricky was full of energy and was really performing. Like, really. Not in an over-active way, but he was moving the whole time, doing things like you’d expect Tricky to do: slow but deliberate and not without meaning, that’s what I mean.
On the tour he’s got Franky Riley, who happens to be the lovely female vocal flavor of the current CD. Apparently they’ve been working together since ’08 and she’s planning to release a debut album in 2011. She came out first, then out came Tricky and they immediately started into it. And ftr, she looks and sounds fucking badass.
When someone is on tour to promote the new album, you expect to hear a LOT of the new album, like mostly the new album. Lucky for us he appeared to be in a really good mood (proven later) and played a LOT of throwbacks. I wasn’t expecting to hear a lot of my favorites but got a few of them, most notably Overcome and Black Steel. Um, yes!!!
The winner of the evening (for me) of the newer tracks was definitely the new Frankie Track and Ghetto Stars. Just great live. Great.
Quite honestly, even though I PROMISED myself I wouldn’t work the whole time and would ONLY shoot during the first three songs (as the agreement with Press states), I had to scrap that because the lighting was really low. I mean, really. I mean, a-’Charlie Murphy as conceived by Rick James’-level of DARKNESS. There were lights, but they weren’t helpful at all. So I ditched the ‘no flashes’ and ‘only three songs’ rules and shot the entire show. And thankfully I got a few good ones. Because of this though, I wasn’t really able to dance and get down as much as I wanted to.
So Tricky does a song where he invites people on stage. I don’t mean one fangirl who gets to sing along poorly, I mean everyone in the GD place. So he’s telling people to get on stage and about half of the audience got onstage. Insanity. But organized insanity, since we’re German, you know? It was cool. It was around then that I totally just switched my cam settings and put the flash on. Everyone was flashing, which by the Cranberries standards means that I could, too.
He did that twice, getting the crowd on stage.
Interesting to note: Tricky only rocked ONE encore. Yes, I mean, at this point we expect at least one and most artists cut the main show short on purpose to include encores (yes, they do) so whatever, but I have to say I’m glad that it was only one. The second crowd invitation happened at the end of the first encore. So he got all of these people on stage and then he jumped down into the crowd and just started walking around, shaking fans’ hands and thanking them for coming.
Not even lying, he walked around the venue and thanked people for coming. I of course followed him around with my camera (unsuccessfully) rather than shaking his hand. There was of course a security guard with him, with an upturned flashlight so the people in charge knew where he was at all times. Then he got to the bar and the light went out and I lost sight of him.
Then the show ended. I went back to Thorben and Mareice and showed them a few of the good photos I took. As people cleared out, I told them that Tricky walked around and wondered aloud if he just stopped and got a drink at the bar. Then we turned around and there, at the bar, talking to some fans, was Tricky. Just leaning against the bar. Chatting.
I fucking love this guy.
But there’s still more! And I’m sorry, this is getting long. I know.
So Thorben said earlier that he’d never met Tricky in person. I said, ‘I’ve got a camera, I’m already letting you use my photos, go over there and meet him and I’ll take a photo’. He was reluctant but we pushed him.
It turns out that Thorben is kind of a BFD in the Tricky world. We’re just standing there, and then Tricky starts talking: then Thorben introduced himself and Tricky was like ‘Oh holy shit!! It’s you!” and then starts telling everyone that this is ‘the Tricky nerd’, and everyone is like ‘Oh man, you’re here!’. THEN: Tricky is like ‘hey, I have a bunch of stuff for you in the back, let’s take the photo later on’.
And like that, my new friends and I were in the back with Tricky and Franky and a few others, drinking rum and cokes and bullshitting.
Random Tricky facts:
~ Tricky is a mammal.
~ Tricky is human
~ Tricky loves Marzipan
~ Tricky is banned from Caesar’s Palace in Vegas (but it wasn’t his fault)
~ Tricky LOVES Tokyo
~ Tricky reads more than the average musician and appears to have a liking for biographies and non-fiction.
~ Tricky shared his drink with me, and then was nice enough to pour my next one.
~ Tricky is really nice, down-to-earth and laid-back. Which is not what one expects but is absolutely better, I think.
An hour later, I was on my way home. But not before snapping one final photo:
THANK YOU MOG!!!