Finley Quaye, born in Edinburgh. His heyday came in 1997 and 1998 when he sold copies of his reggae-tinged album Maverick A Strike by the truckload and won a BRIT Award for Best Male Solo Artist.Once upon a time there was a man by the name of
Such was his level of popularity, that when visiting Glasgow on tour he would play the Barrowland Ballroom, capacity 1,900. He’ll be returning to Scotland in June, only this time he’s trying to shift tickets for King Tut’s, capacity 300, and Cabaret Voltaire, capacity 450.
Another act who hit their peak in the 90s, The Bluetones, used to make an annual pilgrimage to the Barras. But for the next three nights, you can find them in Edinburgh’s Bongo Club (450 capacity), Aberdeen’s Warehouse (650), and Dundee’s Doghouse (350).
A quick look at the forthcoming gig listings for Glagow’s ABC 1 (capacity 1,300) throws up bands such as Ash, Idlewild and The Magic Numbers, all of whom have also previously headlined larger venues but now find their careers on a downward trajectory. Two years ago Travis also opted to play one night at the ABC, a world away from their sell-out run of four shows at the SECC arena in March 2002.
Or how about the riches to rags story of The Futureheads, who are going from the Glasgow Academy in 2006 (capacity 2,500) to Oran Mor (500) later this month.
Music artists are notoriously ego-sensitive creatures, so it must take some amount of pride-swallowing to handle such a visible reminder of their flagging popularity. Sailing on when others view you as a sinking ship is no easy feat.
But where did all the fans go? What makes an artist suddenly become irrelevant? Is it really fair to say it is a direct result of their music output deteriorating or are more complicated factors at work? How significant is it that all of the acts mentioned above no longer have the backing of the major labels that used to support them?
The answer, I feel, is in the hands of Davis Marlon. Who is Davis Marlon? He is 29, he did his time at university, got a job in sales and lives in the West End of Glasgow; Davis enjoys prime-time TV, rarely goes to gigs and most certainly doesn’t read blogs, so I can say pretty much anything I want about him without fear of retribution.
The most important thing about Davis Marlon, though, is that he is one of the one million people who bought Maverick A Strike. So we brought him in for questioning.
Why did you buy Maverick A Strike?
“Maverick A Strike? Ah, that takes me back. For a time it felt like if Finley Quaye was everywhere. You couldn’t escape Sunday Shining, I really liked that song – I still do, now that I think about it. It was different, his style was unique and not something you heard in the charts every week. But I think it was when Even After All was released that I bought the album in HMV.”
Did you purchase any other Finley Quaye albums after that? If not, why?
“I didn’t. His sound was a novelty at the time but after a while it started to get a bit repetitive. I think that put me off buying any of his other records.”
Would you be interested in checking out his new material or seeing him live again?
“Not in the slightest, to be honest. I mean, it’s not like he’s just going to play the first album in full.”
Do you feel guilty that you have neglected his career?
“Guilty?! I don’t owe the guy a living!”
April 29, Oran Mor, Glasgow (sold out)