Here's one sure way to tell when Tricky's onstage: If you can't see him.
Saturday at the 9:30 club, the British producer-vocalist performed under his characteristic cover of darkness, only occasionally illuminated by blue or red spotlights. He also turned the show into the customary endurance contest, stretching what would have been an impressive one-hour set over almost two. Still, there were memorable moments, with Tricky chanting the groove like an art-hop Van Morrison or trading vocals with female singer Kioka on one of his slippery, atmospheric songs.
Mostly, though, Tricky showed little interest in the shifting rhythms and intricate textures of his best-known songs. He performed only a few of them, and cut "Christiansands" surprisingly short.
The musician's new "Juxtapose" has a more direct sound than his previous albums, and that was reflected in such songs as "I Like the Girls," one of several that featured vocals by guest rapper Mad Dog. Yet the four-piece band often seemed less indebted to hip-hop (or dub, the wellspring of Tricky's sound) than to thudding hard rock. It seemed apt that the headliner, who eschewed the keyboards he sometimes used to play onstage, instead played a bit of electric guitar.