Loaded with instantly forgettable songs, filled out by who's-that-who-cares guest vocalists like Mad Dog, D'na, and Kioka, and (barely) beefed up by producers DJ Muggs and Grease, Tricky's latest album, Juxtapose (Island), is so slapdash it makes his 1996 demos-with-famous-people collection Nearly God sound as labored-over as "River Deep, Mountain High." But at least a couple of the new songs ("For Real" and "Hot Like a Sauna") will add fuel to his live show, which has gathered so much extra steam since his first, tentative outings behind 1995's Maxinquaye that it would appear he's made some Faustian bargain: his albums get slighter every time out, but he put on the single best live show I saw in 1998. On the dim, almost randomly lit stage, bent completely forward, croaking, growling, so tense he looked like he was about to snap in half, Tricky seemed to be channeling the dark forces he's been accused (and has occasionally bragged) of harnessing; he threw that energy toward his musicians, who responded with a staggering, thundering turbulence that would have tossed a lesser presence right off the stage. The venue was packed, of course, but even if only 30 people had shown up, that snarling noise would have filled the room all by itself. Thursday, September 23, 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joseph Cultice.