Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Finley Quaye + Alexia Coley: The Jazz Cafe London 27/08/2015

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Alexia Coley, a rising star on the chronically hip and happening Jalapeno records label, proved to be a rather edifying tonic to a night of rather mixed fortunes...

Her gutsy brand of sassy music was just the ticket as she seduced us into the her world via her beautifully undulating notes in that sweet, slightly hoarse, yet soulful voice of hers, that had the audience roaring in approval from pretty much the off.

Her band too were on it, dressed in regulation shirt and tie (most soul bands uniforms these days) offset perfectly by Alexia's beautiful red dress filled with her outstanding curvaceous loveliness. The set is laced with quality songs, plentiful in melody and pathos and dispatched with efficient vim and vigour by her well honed backing band.

Highlights were many, but the defiant and gloriously entitled top tune was "I Like A Drink", which reached (purely coincidentally I might add) the near heights of Janis Joplin (who also liked a tipple... or two!) the 60's mash potato perculator "Drive Me Wild' and her excellent album title song ballad "Keep The Faith", prove what a polished songwriter this lass is. Do check out her debut album it's well worth a listen... now onto the main act, where events took a dramatic turn...

In the mid to late �90�s Finley Quaye gave high energy, spiced up reggae to the hordes as Britpop was dying a death and Quaye�s laid-back approach and his soulful-whiney-vocal, pricked up the ears of the music industry with classic tracks such as; �Sunday Shining,� �Even After All� and �Love Gets Sweeter� (which on tonight's offering, could have been strung out a bit longer) suffice to say the hits were all knocked out in a perfunctory and dispassionate manner. The Jazz Café, being one of London�s coolest venues, is kind of home to him and Quaye roamed up and down the stage looking like a restless caged animal, mingling with his crack ace backing musicians and dressed almost as colourfully as any participant at last week's Notting Hill Carnival - topped with some joke shop sunglasses, presumably to avoid any form of eye contact or audience interaction.

The first five tunes � some reggaefied, bass-driven tracks that made your head rock in time to the horn section, were very good indeed, except Quaye was letting the side down by refusing to put the microphone anywhere near his mouth!? Compound that with the fact that he had his thumb over the damn thing and was the main cause of intermittent feedback!

You could feel his turmoil and nervous energy coming off the stage making it hard to judge whether he really gave a damn or was trying his hardest, I should have left after three numbers as frankly it was just plain embarrassing.

Yes, his performance and attitude was lamentable, however I'm not going to go into character assassination overdrive here, but I'm sure you are beginning to get the picture. He played a few more tunes from his back catalogue and dropped a great tune "Troubadour" for good measure.

A rendition of �House Of The Rising Sun,� was particularly good and also saw Quaye change the lyrics to, �There is a house in Africa...." Unfortunately, the rest of the lyrics were unintelligible, so the 'new story' fell on deaf ears. A Hendrix cover of "Voodoo Child", the one tune that AT LAST came from the heart was great also, but it was a case of too little too late.

Unfortunately the performance as a whole was sadly lacking, seeing Quaye mainly just going through the motions, destroying the sentiment of the evening with his laissez faire attitude, was a plain shame. The early spark and promise seems to have all-but left him and a rather shambolic performance was the only thing he could muster (despite his great band) to think this was the guy who inspired a generation, to now see him languishing in no man's land with little chance of gaining new fans, is a rather sad and heartbreaking affair ...and where he goes from here is probably anybody's guess.

PHOTOS: EMRYS BAIRD
Words Emrys Baird

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