‘Finley Quaye? You mean that fella who did Sunday Shining?’ Well, yeah…but according to the flyers outside tonight’s venue Mr Quaye is most certainly not a mid-Nineties, one-album-wonder, but actually ‘one of the most prolific songwriters of the past ten years.’ We’ll see…
For an un-advertised gig, word certainly seemed to have got round and the sell-out queue ran out of the door and halfway down The Tabernacle’s pretty courtyard. The Tabernacle is a stunning Grade II listed building that’s had millions spent on its transformation and relaunch under the banner of ‘Carnival Village’, an epicentre for all things Notting Hill Carnival and hub of Afro-Carribean culture.
Inside the main auditorium, there were beautiful exposed steel girders in the ceiling and lovely (if not a little ecclesiastic) carved woodwork on the pew-like balconies. But it’s not just the architecture and design that was somewhat churchy; even though the venue was packed to capacity and had had ooodles of money poured into it, the sound quality was poor, at times almost village-hall poor, and the atmosphere matched. I genuinely had no idea why, as the white girls with dreadlocks and their trustafarian boyfriends, along with everyone else, were happily grooving away, but the atmosphere just didn’t seem to hold.
Finley gave the crowd exactly what they wanted and started his hour-and-a-half long set with Sunday Shining. It was brilliant, even better than I remembered. He followed this up with the truly lovely, uber-mellow Even After All and a few other tracks from 1997’s award winning Maverick A Strike. And whilst the moniker of ‘most prolific songwriter of the past ten years’ might be stretching it a bit, you know more Finley Quaye songs that you think you do.
The gig seemed to be split into two distinct sections, however, and the latter half wasn’t hugely engaging. Whereas the first part of the set seemed to centre around Quaye’s much lauded ‘songs’, as time went on the tempo slowed to a crawl and his (albeit very talented) band ambled into jam territory. It was all done well, with expert percussion, and a gorgeous hammond organ, and would make the perfect soundtrack for sitting at home and getting stoned out of one’s tiny mind, but it really wasn’t very exciting to watch intoxicated by nought but a can of luke-warm Red Stripe.
Quaye is said to be currently working on a new album, in conjunction with ’90s legends A Guy Called Gerald and Stereo MC’s, no less, and I will definitely check it out; for sound, atmosphere and self-indulgent jamming aside, he was very good indeed.
Tel. 020 7221 9700
Check out what else is on at The Tabernacle at www.carnivalvillage.org.uk
Image by www.EdRobinsonPhotography.com