A decade on and the Marquee line-up is bigger than ever
A DECADE ago Cork would have been regarded as something of a musical backwater, with people having little choice but to travel up to the capital if they wanted to see big acts live.
One man with a vision and a large tent has changed all of that.
In 2005 Cork was the European Capital of Culture and the city as buzzing with anticipation with numerous events planned to celebrate the honour.
In the summer of that year a large and colourful tent was erected in Cork's Docklands and Live at the Marquee was born.
Although not an official Cork 2005 event, the concept caught the imagination of the public with a host of top Irish and international acts, including Diana Ross, Brian Wilson and Ronan Keating on the bill.
The list of acts that have appeared at the events over the intervening years has been nothing short of remarkable, reading like a 'who's who" of the music world.
Live at the Marquee 2014 is following in the same vein, with a stunning line-up featuring some of the biggest names in the industry.
Promoter Peter Aiken was back in Leeside last week to officially launch the event and revealed three more acts for the line-up.
Speaking to the The Corkman, Peter said even he was surprised the Live at the Marquee concept was still as strong as it has ever been.
"It's remarkable, who would have thought we would be still going strong after 10-years? Back in 2005 we put our toes in the water to see what would happen," said Peter.
"I never thought it would go this far," he admitted.
Asked if he thought 2014 was the best line-up yet, Peter said it was hard to say.
"It is a great line up for sure. But when you see the list of acts that have played here, it's difficult to pick one year over another," said Peter.
One thing that was very evident was the fact that Peter had lost none of his enthusiasm for the event.
"I never will. I think it's totally different to a gig in an area, where the atmosphere can be quite staid. A marquee is a lot looser and creates a far better atmosphere. Not just for the audience but also the performers. Certain bands just like the marquee," he said.
In fact, he said the manager of one act told Peter he would never start a tour in Cork again.
"When I asked him why, he said things could only go downhill from here," Peter laughed.
However, he did admit that the venue did come as a surprise some acts, Tom Petty among them.
"This is a huge rock star that has played all over the world. When he arrived it was lashing rain and there was a sense of 'what's this all about, this is just a tent'.
Despite Petty's manager being sceptical about the venue, Peter assured him Petty would get a fantastic reception.
"Sure enough a huge roar went up when he came on. He was clearly taken aback. The atmosphere was unbelievable and the audience knew the word to every song," said Peter.
"This year we have acts like The National, Bob Dylan and Bryan Adams returning to Cork. It wasn't difficult to get them back."
One gig Peter is particularly looking forward to this year is the return of Christy Moore, the only person to have played Live at the Marquee each year since 2005.
"He has put together a band of really top musicians for this year and I think that is really going to be exciting," he said.
"You also have Robert Plant who will be playing up to 10 Led Zeppelin numbers, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Pixies, who sold out almost immediately, and Lana Del Ray, who is an amazing live performer," he said.
Peter said there are a couple of more acts to be added to the line-up. However, he poured cold water on any rumours that Garth Brooks might be playing Cork in 2014.
"I think everyone has been surprised at the way the tickets for his Croke Park gigs have sold, not just here in Ireland but across the globe. We have even sold eight tickets to people in Afghanistan and other countries I've never even heard of," said Peter.
"But he won't be coming to Cork this year," he added.