LIVE REVIEW: Finley Quaye @ The Bodega

20/04/15

If you want to see Finley Quaye…maybe don’t go to one of his gigs.

When Finley Quaye announced his 2015 tour, I was pretty excited. This was the guy that embodied cool in the late nineties. Always wearing a careless attitude and a cheeky smile, Quaye’s soulful voice and reggae infused music shot him to stardom. His debut album Maverick A Strike, released in 1997, went gold in three weeks and helped him pick up a Brit Award for Best Male. This year Quaye is set to make a come back with multiple tour dates and a couple of months in the studio. I wonder what 18 years in the music industry has done for the now 41 year old?

My answer from last night: quite a lot, and maybe not in a good way.

Unfortunately, Quaye’s arrival was delayed but his 3-piece band soon raised spirits with their reggae-funk style of play. After roughly half an hour, the crowd started to fidget with the guitarist seeming equally unsettled. He announced he didn’t know where Quaye was much to everyone’s disbelief. It was at this time the band asked whether they should stop playing but thankfully a woman reached for the microphone, and said we were all here to have a good time. A shaky start and Quaye was still nowhere to be seen.

After another 20 minutes, Quaye lolloped onto the stage. With no words as to his absence, he dived straight into his first song. Well at least I think it was one of his songs… his mumbling voice and unsteady movements proved quite incoherent but at least the band kept it together. Knocking and then throwing the mic stand off the stage, one had to question the physical condition of Mr. Quaye.

Worried things were about to turn from bad to worse; I was relieved to see Quaye coming around from his hazy start. He soon settled into a couple of sunshine reggae numbers.

Hiding in the shadows of the stage, Quaye seemed to avoid eye contact with the crowd. The notorious badman was living up to his reputation and I felt disappointed. My favourite song Even After All was performed half-heartedly and little justice was done to his latest laid-back, Rastafarian styled album, Royal Rasses.

Feeling the space around me grow, I noticed a third of the crowd had left. The press haven’t always portrayed Quaye in a shining light but his music is worth talking about. An amalgam of reggae, dub, folk and soul, Quaye has a distinct and heartfelt sound. Unafraid to tread his own creative path, I hoped he would be back with verve but this poor performance has left me wondering.

For now I’ll keep listening to Finley Quaye, but it will be on my iPod, until it can be said that the artist whose music I respect, is ready to be back on the road.

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