The Live At The Marquee festivities have become a regular feature of the summertime in Cork since the city was Europe's Capital of Culture in 2005. It began with Brian Wilson on June 30th that year, and has since seen a plethora of acts performing including (deep breath!) Al Green, Nick Cave, Van Morrison, Paul Brady, Kanye West, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, The Frames, Art Garfunkel, Robert Plant, Roxy Music, Faithless, Antony & The Johnsons, Duran Duran, 50 Cent, Elton John, Slayer, The Who, The Flaming Lips, Madness, Pink, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, Jay-Z, Morrissey, Paul Weller, Massive Attack, Paul Simon, The Prodigy, Lady Gaga and many, many more.
Now those living in the capital might not realise the significance of getting acts of this calibre to the city of Cork, but it is a major coup for the organisers. Cork has perennially struggled to attract major acts due to the lack of a designated concert venue such as the O2 (or even smaller venues such as the Ambassador), while ticket sales for Cork gigs are often weak and organising them has required a significant gamble. However, the promoters have done a fantastic job. The above list should shows the effort put in and the fact that the major acts have returned (Bell X1, Christy Moore, Kanye West and 50 Cent have all played numerous times) indicates that the project has been a success.
This year sees an odd mix of acts. The full list is printed below:
Megadeth - June 14th
JLS - June 16th.
JLS - June 17th.
Al Green and Michael McDonald - June 19th.
Kenny Rogers - June 20th.
Jackson Browne and David Lindley - June 23rd.
Blondie - June 24th
Midlake, Camera Obscura, Grizzly Bear and Villagers - June 25th.
Paul Weller - June 27th.
The Cranberries - June 29th.
Deep Purple - June 30th.
Dara Ó Briain - July 1st.
Dara Ó Briain - July 2nd.
Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott - July 3rd.
Snoop Dogg - July 5th.
Westlife - July 6th.
Westlife - July 7th. (Announced after previous date sold out within minutes)
Tony Bennett - July 8th.
Madness - July 9th.
Mamma Mia! - from July 20th until August 1st. (16 Shows)
Thrash metal legends Megadeth the series tonight. They are presently playing to approximately 3000 people - double the attendance of their last recorded gig in Ireland. Pop power houses JLS and Westlife will both play a pair of gigs, though Chris Brown's proposed performance was cancelled due to his failure to attain a visa. Blondie perform following a cancellation last year, while legends such as Al Green, Michael McDonald, Jackson Browne, David Lindley, Paul Weller and Kenny Rogers will all take to the stage this year.
The two events I have highlighted in bold are the Harmonic event on June 25th and the run of 16 Mamma Mia! shows from July 20th to August 1st. These two stand out for me in the series as they offer some completely different. Harmonic is an admirable attempt by the promoters to bring high calibre alternative acts to the south at affordable prices: typically this sort of act is available in Dublin or at festivals. At just €35 this is a must for indie fans. As for Mamma Mia!... Well it's not my idea of fun but it is noteworthy as an attempt to turn Live At The Marquee into more than a musical series. There have always been comedy acts (Tommy Tiernan, Des Bishop, Dara O Briain, etc.), though this year the promoters are attempting to turn it into a cultural event, rather than just a musical and comedy one. Here's hoping it catches on!
Do your best to catch a gig at the Marquee this year if you can - I have my tickets for Harmonic, while I'm considering Dara O Briain too. Having seen the Flaming Lips, Nick Cave and more here before, I can tell you it's well worth a visit. A must for any Cork people, and I think worth the trek for the rest of the country.