The cream of the cream

Finley Quaye

Creamfields Festival

Almost 40,000 attended Creamfields in Winchester last weekend for 18 hours of revelry, nine separate music arenas and more live acts and DJs than you could shake a stick at.

Creamfields differs from traditional summer festivals insofar as the main focus falls on club culture, as opposed to live bands. The organisers wanted to provide amenities that you would expect to find in a club, but put simply, only two things mattered to those present: toilets and mud. Success equals keeping the former free of the latter (in addition to anything else that you'd only touch with the sole of your shoe) and while the weather was excellent the toilets were predictably bad unless you had access to the VIP cabins.

The event was an overwhelming success due to the quality and quantity of the acts on offer. Sasha, Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold, Daft Punk, Danny Rampling, Roni Size and Boy George were just a few who performed throughout the day, while Cornershop, Primal Scream, and Run DMC headlined the event's live acts. The only problem was who to watch.

Around 9pm everyone seemed to descend upon the main arena to hear , who exuded a feeling that his success was all pretty much inevitable. His innate sense of assurance (detractors would call it arrogance) in himself and his music, immediately connected with the crowd.

He began by playing a newly cut white label dub plate - not performing the track you understand, but literally playing the piece of vinyl on a nearby turntable. The surprised crowd listened patiently as the scratchy reggae rhythms fill the air.

At the end of the track the crowd were silent until Quaye held up the plate and faced the crowd, "This is an original dub plate," he said matter- of-factly, slowly showing the crowd both sides of the disc, "only printed on one side." The crowd started to scream and his seven piece band launched into an instrumental.

Quaye's success shows three singles, one album (Maverick A Strike) and a Best Male Artist honour at the recent Brit Awards, but his set showed a refreshing willingness to deviate from the script. He battled through poor sound quality to perform a selection of instrumentals, remixes and others, all branded with characteristically thick dollops of reggae.

Unfortunately his revised script perversely robbed the audience of the chance to hear songs they could recognise (namely the two singles, "Even After All" and "Sunday Shining"). Consequently his performance, with the exception of "Your Love Gets Sweeter", never seemed to take a responsive audience past first gear and into euphoria.

Whenever Quaye attempted to extend his vocal range his microphone rebelled violently and feedback filled the air, but the crowd were still cheering. They cheered when he lit up a fag, they cheered when he sat down to take a swig of champagne. They even cheered when he walked off stage in mid- set.

The guy next to me commented that this was the best live set he had ever seen, and then wondered when Quaye was going to perform "Sunday Shining". I told him that he's already played it, but that the revised version lacked the impact of the original and passed unnoticed.

After five minutes Quaye returned and explained why he walked off (apparently he wanted his mic level sorted out) and then threatened the sound man. "I know who you are and I know where you live," were some of his more printable words.

His music was good, but you couldn't help feeling that his boorish Liam Gallagher impression robbed the audience - which had thinned considerably by the end - of the performance Quaye is surely capable of.

Alister Morgan

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