Finley Quaye


Features, Music, Review | by — June 5, 2009


June 4, 2009

by Ruth Thomson

Hands up who remembers Finley Quaye’s 1997 hit album Maverick a Strike?? Me!! Perhaps it was just the dawn of a new era beckoning but rocking up at first year uni with this sun-drenched soundtrack ringing in my ears the future looked good… So twelve years on (TWELVE YEARS!!) I was intrigued to see what’s new with Mr Quaye.

He was in town for the opening gig of the Tabernacle’s Reggae Fest Weekend and got proceedings off to a great start. Having found the venue early (our final clue being the sighting of two elderly/extremely groovy Rastafarian fellas strolling round the corner) we had plenty of time to soak up the atmos as Notting Hill’s finest sauntered in… Quick word about the Tabernacle: it’s ace. Gorgeous building, friendly staff, great bar, yummy burgers, lovely setting – nestled snugly off Powis Square, it’s in it’s own little mellow world.

But back to the main event… Ably supported by DJ Exel and Moodie, who were particularly funky, all big shades/big hair as with each song more and more of them filled the stage, Finley finally ambled on sporting shiny aviators and a seriously oversized white linen shirt. He predictably kicked things off with everyone’s Maverick favourites: Sunday Shining, Even After All, It’s Great When We’re Together. Although these were of course met with whoops of delight it took a little while for it to all feel engaged – about two thirds of the beautiful people were chatting energetically over the music, whilst the man himself was slightly disconcertingly singing to his band more than to the audience – hence the side on photos! Initially there lacked much of a dynamic between stage and crowd but by half an hour in it was all going in the right direction. His voice is quite an instrument, one moment giving it his reggaetastic all, the next crooning like a laid back Sinatra. And hats off to the six guys in his band, all one hundred percent committed to the performance with spot on results. My personal favourites were the two percussionists (the previously mentioned Rastas!) who at one point were engaging in some pretty darn impressive double-handed tambourining…

Quaye’s an intriguing character: the peak of his late 90’s fame being reflected in his ’97 Mobo Award (‘Best Reggae’) and his Brit the following year (‘Best British Male Solo Artist’). Credited with the ‘reinvention of reggae’ he’s always been a hard man to define. He went on to release relatively successful albums in 2000 and 2004, and collaborated that same year with William Orbit and Beth Orton (most excitingly of all this featured on Music from The OC: Mix 1 – how the heck did I miss it?!?). A number of enigmatic questions buzz around him – is he really Tricky’s uncle? Duke Ellington’s godson? A former futon-maker??? Now based in Berlin, sadly we may never know. Currently working on a new album with A Guy Called Gerald and the Stereo MC’s, he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. And the best thing of all, he’s from Leith!!

Back in London on the 3rd September, you can also catch him in Manchester on the 13th June and Liverpool on the 28th.

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