Looking back at stand-out memories from Live at the Marquee

Live at the Marquee promoter Peter Aiken at the venue. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Live at the Marquee kicked off last night in Cork, so Ellie O’Byrne canvassed some of the regular festival goers to pick a stand-out memory

Peter Aiken, Live at the Marquee promoter

I’ve genuinely enjoyed so many of the gigs, from Bob Dylan and Neil Young right through to the pop acts. The big surprise for me were Biffy Clyro two years ago — they were so good. Also, the first ever Marquee gig, Brian Wilson in 2005, was also a bit special. When he launched into ‘God Only Knows’, I remember the crowd going absolutely mad and I thought to myself, ‘I could be onto something here’.

Steven Grainger (Stevie G), DJ

We ended up booking these DJs that were associates of Kanye West’s to play The Pavilion for an after-party when he played the Marquee. The day of the gig, his Irish representatives called and said, ‘Kanye might come down to your club tonight, how do you feel about that?’

I was told that five black SUVs would pull up and that he would be in the fifth one. I went to the fifth car and sure enough this tiny little guy pops out surrounded by these huge dudes. We brought him in the side entrance and although there was a rumour going around, he was surrounded by his entourage and in this cordoned-off area and no-one could see him. Then at around 1am, Kanye jumped onto the stage and did two tracks. A guy that had been tweeting ‘worst night ever’ was tweeting ‘best night of my life, this is unbelievable’ about two seconds later.

Kanye West in 2006
Kanye West in 2006

John Creedon, broadcaster

I really think Peter Aiken should be acknowledged somehow for bringing the Marquee to Cork. Cork was in many ways a backwater for big gigs but over the last decade or more, all the heavy-hitters have played Cork. The Reverend Al Green was the Soulmaster supreme. I’d had him on the radio show that day and he had such an amazing backstory involving shootings and court cases. There he was, in his 70s, and he was just the grooviest mover you’ve ever seen. It was a really soulful gig with a great brass section, but when I saw him do the splits on stage I thought to myself, ‘Reverend?! You see more Reverends at the chip shop at closing time.’

Al Green in 2010
Al Green in 2010

Maria Rolston, journalist

In 2007 I ended up on stage dancing with the Flaming Lips in the Marquee. We went backstage before the show started and they didn’t give us any direction on what to do, but I was dressed as an alien with a green mask and a purple and silver body suit. Wayne Coyne came out in this giant bubble and rolled out onto the audience. It was really amazing, even now thinking about it I get tingles. It was nearly 4,000 people, and a little intimidating but thankfully I had this alien mask on so no-one could see me and we just did all this crazy dancing. There was so much energy from the crowd, especially for the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Song’ and ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’.

Looking back at stand-out memories from Live at the Marquee

Mike McGrath Bryan, journalist

Slayer and Mastodon in 2007 was my first big gig in Cork. I was a big metaller as a teenager and the rite of passage was always to go to a big show. We were doing our Leaving Cert at the time; you’re just at that point when you’re trying to decide what you want to do with your life. Guitarist Jeff Hanneman was still with them and it was good to see the original line-up of a band that gave so much history in terms of metal. Mastodon were supporting and it was a band whose star was very much in the ascendant and they stole the show; Slayer felt like they were going through the motions.

Ashley Keating, The Frank and Walters

We played the Marquee in 2005, but I go down as a punter to a few things every year; it’s part of the summer now at this stage. It’s the atmosphere that makes it; normally the weather is good and stopping off for a beer on the way down is great. It’s kind of that festival feel but you can go home afterwards. A bizarre one for me was Status Quo last year because I wouldn’t be a fan at all, but a buddy had tickets so we went down and it was absolutely amazing. When something comes out of leftfield and blows you away, that’s great.

Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, radio presenter

The Frames’ 25th anniversary gig last year was brilliant. I’ve seen them live a good few times at this stage and there’s always an electric atmosphere. They were so happy to be back together and the fans were too. You could see that the age-group at the gig was a lot of people texting the babysitter, but it felt like everyone was back in college. I would have been a huge fan in my college days and they used to play Limerick a lot but I hadn’t seen them in Cork before so it was great to see them in The Marquee.

Kilian Pettit, radio presenter

The Prodigy felt like a tribal gathering, and the light show was great. There was this big cauldron down at one end of the arena with a mass of sweaty bodies rubbing off each other. There was a full spectrum of fans, from really young people to people who had been into them since the early 90s, and yet it didn’t seem like an odd split; everyone was getting into it in their own way.

The sound of the bass rumbling was phenomenal. It sounded like you were at the gateway to hell and everyone was dancing their way through.

Des O’Driscoll, journalist

As a venue, I was worried the Marquee wouldn’t suit a quiet act like Antony and the Johnsons, but they absolutely blew me away in 2007.

Antony himself was such an endearing presence and with a full band and string section, he produced some truly gorgeous moments — I still get shivers at the thought of it. His cover of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ shouldn’t have worked, but it did; and most of that I Am a Bird Now album was so so good.

John Legend was also incredible last year, and would’ve been worth it for his backing band alone — funk and soul heaven!

My one dud there was Kanye’s first visit in 2006. Some great music, but too stop-start, and his ego got in the way of the performance. I’d made the choice that year between him and Roger Waters and totally backed the wrong horse. At least when Kanye returned in 2009, he was supposedly much better.

Roger Waters at the Marquee in 2006
Roger Waters at the Marquee in 2006

Joe Dermody, journalist

When Peter Aiken was the guest interviewee in the ‘Red Chair’ at a Smarter Egg business talk earlier this year in Ballincollig, he recounted meeting Roger Waters some years ago backstage at a show in New York.

Waters was enthusing about his 2006 Marquee appearance, saying it was one of the enjoyable shows he had done in years.

The ex-Pink Floyd frontman was right. He absolutely rocked. It was a night that started well. Everybody was wowed by the big league professionalism, awesome musicianship, incredible vocals, and the huge wraparound sound with stacks of speakers up behind the main bank of seats.

The sound was epic, matched by the giant screens with high-art visuals.

Then an outage of some sort meant Waters had to reboot all of his computers. During the forced interval, the crowd huddled outside the tent, wondering could Waters & Co pick up where they left off? And then some!

On their return, original Floyd drummer Nick Mason joined the band to play the entire of Dark Side of the Moon from start to finish.

The quality of the show was just incredible.

Anyone who ever complained about the sound quality in Marquee had nothing but good things to say about Roger Waters. Arguably, in terms of audio, Sting was another flawless night.

For me, another standout was the way The Coronas opened their show with their 6m silhouettes cast onto a giant white sheet.

A bit low budget next to Roger Waters, but just as impressive; well, almost.


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