And there’s a more compelling reason than the obvious business sense. Yes, close to 100,000 people have attended this summer’s 25 gigs; the venue started with 12 acts 11 years ago, and mushrooms year-on-year.
However, the real driving force for the Marquee’s future is that the stars just love coming here.
They love the vibe, they love the people, said Mr Aiken. Several global giants are already enquiring for two years from now, but their host refuses to name names.
“Lionel Richie could have picked a few bigger gigs, but he chose Cork,” he said.
He played here four years ago, he loved it and he knew it would be the ideal venue to warm up for Glastonbury. He was right. He was the star of Glastonbury, so much so his album went straight to No1 in the UK after the show.
“Early on, we sold out Christy Moore, Diana Ross, Paddy Casey, and Brian Wilson very quickly, and then the venue quickly gathered its own momentum. And when you get the likes of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Lady Gaga, then it gets easier to get other big acts to come here.”
The repeat appearances of many of the acts speaks for itself. Danny O’Reilly of The Coronas and John McColgan of Riverdance are on record as describing the tent as their favourite venue in the world.
“Riverdance blew me away this year,” said Aiken. “It was like a rock concert. John McColgan said it was the best venue in the world, which is saying something.
“Some people have asked me why don’t I move it to somewhere else, but why would I do that? I don’t know what it is, but I love the venue myself. There’s just something about it. And Cork people are so positive. I do stuff all over the country, but in the 11 years here I’ve never had one bit of grief.
“It’s such a positive place for these acts to come, and once a year the city just builds up a great buzz.”
One feature of the Marquee is that it is set up with its own fixed in-house gear; several big acts have been disappointed the venue could not accommodate their own equipment.
So there will always be a few big fish who escape Aiken’s southern net.
Despite this limitation, he has no plans to upset a winning formula. Having once upon a time worked in Cork with accountancy firm Nathans, he has always retained a fondness for the city, one reinforced by his good experiences hosting Rory Gallagher and others in Cork City Hall.
Aiken was in the tent again last night for Noel Gallagher — no relation to Rory. The mood was good.
“It’s nice to finish the year with a sold-out show with such a big voice in the world of rock music. This was a good year.”