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Finley Quaye: London Shepherd's Bush Empire

He shuffles onstage tonight looking for all the world like a man who has spent the day plastering the front room...

There is a bingo hall next door to the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Inside, smiling faces whoop and holler and applaud when the man in the chintzy suit onstage draws random numbered balls from a tombola. They do this, of course, because they have a chance of winning some money. But they also do this because he makes them. He stands at the front and generates excitment, keeps them transfixed, puts on a show.

Finley Quaye would do well to take note. He shuffles onstage tonight looking for all the world like a man who has spent the day plastering the front room.



Barely acknowledging the crowd, he launches straight into recent single 'Spiritualized', blasting through it with all the verve and feeling of a man in a hurry to finish a soundcheck. It is a level of commitment and performance he maintains for the next half dozen tracks, all of them lifted from the patchy 'Vanguard'. Maybe he's embarrassed by their reggae-lite dullness. Maybe he honestly doesn't care.



Whichever, it's a shame. It's a shame because with little effort Finley Quaye could be so, so much better. His nine man band are tight, as in old-school-travelling-soul-revue tight. Quaye has obviously rehearsed them well for what is a rare live outing. And Quaye has some tunes. When the unmaskable bliss of 'It's Great When We're Together' or the sheer smiling kick of 'Sunday Shining' blow in, you wonder why he doesn't keep it up at this level all the time. Only during the show-closing covers, 'Voodoo Chile' and a genuinely affecting 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World', does he morph into a perfomer - a performer who actually cares about the music and about those who have paid to see him.



Paul McNamee

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