I spare a thought for whoever might have been in the possession of a ticket to Tricky’s sold out A38 gig and happened to be, let’s say skiing in a very remote village in the Alps or holed up in a tropical yoga retreat for the past couple of days or so without a functional Internet connection. Upon their return to Budapest, they would resettle to urban life and sort their things, enveloped in the comfortable thought of having a concert to attend in the evening, then set out into the night to arrive on the boat at the usual nine-nine thirtyish time slot when most main acts start their show only to be greeted by Tricky bidding farewell to the crowd.
For not only was the show scheduled to start at eight- this is something that had actually happened a couple of times before, with bands playing at an early time slot without an opening act-but Tricky showed up pretty much out of the blue, or more precisely the dark, almost ten minutes early, interrupting a very interesting conversation to my left, about the perils of border crossings in Cambodia, and making the man to my right almost spill his beer out of surprise and fright.
He also looked somewhat indisposed, strutting around the stage like a boxer unhappy with the latest developments of his technique, and, above all, unhappy with the sound. The many microphone enablers Tricky’s antics call for were seemingly scolded on several occasions about perceived or real breakdowns in sound quality. One of the perks of the front row, provided you’re not being squashed into the railing, is that you also get a glimpse into the dynamics of what a concert is like. And I’m not talking here about those polished productions where both photographers and front row fans are kept at bay (really didn’t mean to, but I suddenly pictured Brandon Flowers in a pink suit here) to keep up the illusion of perfect glitter, shiny guitars and digitally enhanced instrument playing skills, but club gigs where things can occasionally go awry.
As such, the whole evening had a jerky feeling, like we were going along in fits and starts, with a longish break in the middle of the set, when some people panicked Tricky’d had enough of the technical buffoonery and would wander off into the Budapest night with better things to do. This was not all bad, though, to the contrary. There was a rawness that fits Tricky’s music very well, a kind of more direct emotional connection to feelings which are not always as rosy and zen as those elicited, perhaps, by Massive Attack’s Teardrop. Because there is absolutely no Tricky show without someone a) expecting Massive Attack songs b) assuming he IS Massive Attack, something which I’d already learned last time he graced the stage of A38.
Another front row delight of mine is to catch fragments of the singer’s actual voice, as it is without having gone through the sound system, and Tricky helps me out here by occasionally singing with the microphone placed on his chest. This is where you’d expect me to pass judgement on whether it sounded good, great or alright (Tricky won’t sound bad, obviously), but all I could think of how he sounds exactly like this. Always professional, I know.
Matching the overall tone, the end was double abrupt, with the band (Tricky was accompanied by a drummer, a guitarist and a female singer) returning for only one song in the encore- the (new) guy to my right was now upset, saying that this was such a short show, when in fact, with the early start included, they played around 90 minutes. Time flies though when you’re entertained.
PS: I have very rigid preferences when it comes to sneakers, and I always wanted to know who on earth wears Reeboks. Now I do.