The final curtain is nearing for Live at the Marquee, at least at the tent’s current docklands location on Monahan Road. For fifteen summer seasons (the Covid crisis notwithstanding), the Marquee served as a central location for big gigs, club nights and other attractions, a large part of the city’s summer arts season, playing host to everyone from Elton John and the Eagles to Slayer and Kraftwerk.
One of the venue’s big recurring draws in recent years has been the appearance of 2FM DJ Jenny Greene, taking to the decks to dispense the dance floorfillers, usually with a hefty dose of nostalgia, accompanied in her Leeside appearances by visuals evoking memories of the city’s clubbing heyday, including archival video from venues like Sir Henry’s.
Most recently, she’s been accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, who lend their power and weight to new arrangements of ‘90s club favourites, alongside live vocalists like Voiceworks Studios’ Gemma Sugrue, lending her pipes to live renditions of vocal hooks and choruses.
Speaking from her home in Dublin, Greene is about to prepare for an episode of her new RTÉ 2FM show The Greene Room, airing Sundays to Thursdays at 9pm, and presenting a different genre of new Irish music each night, as part of a solid evening offering of new-music shows alongside fellow disc-jocks Tara Kumar and Dan Hegarty.
“I'm probably in a better place now. I mean, it's taken until now to feel like the show has an identity. And I feel I know what it is, it's still evolving, and I think there's a way to go. Even now, I can feel it and see it, and I think people know what it is now. There were so many different things I wanted to do on it, and it was trying to find a way to do all of them, and that it made sense, still slowed.
“I knew it was going to be a good bit of work, but I feel like I don't have a minute now. I spend all day working on it, have a quick bite to eat, and then I go into work. It's a lot more work than I've done before, but I'm actually really enjoying it. So far so good - people seem to be receiving it well, so hopefully it continues that way.”
The show marks a return to the Irish-music beat for Greene, having become a staple of afternoon radio on 2FM, and maintaining her Saturday night Electric Disco mix for over a decade.
But since her last stint in the presenters’ chair for specialist shows, not only has the way Irish artists release music changed, but podcasting and on-demand listening has completely altered the idea of destination radio. It’s a change that Greene has adapted to.
“I think the thing I've found now, the last time I would have done just purely music shows was probably fifteen years ago, when I started in 2FM, I would do Friday and Saturday nights. You'll remember back yourself, there wasn't quite the volume of music that there is now, and it's a case of, you can't listen to absolutely everything, but I'm doing my best to do as close to that as I can, and trying to ensure that you don't miss something. I've two email accounts and they're full every day. You're wanting to make sure that you go through everything, that you don't miss something.
“Certainly, in comparison to what I had been doing more recently, a drivetime show, which was playlisted, and the only other things I had to worry about were the guests and the features and the things that we had on the show. The music was taken care of by somebody else. So, to go in and do two hours, six nights a week, and different genres on different nights, it has definitely been a lot more work than I did before.
“It's definitely more suited to me. Maybe it's possibly what I should always have been doing, but you have to do these other things in order to get to that point, and certainly the feedback has been great from people, but I've been getting sent an awful lot of music from people who maybe aren't signed, or don't have anybody out there pushing their music for them.
“There's some really, really great music out there, particularly in Ireland, that, y'know, has maybe gone somewhat under the radar, and it's lovely to be able to give it a platform and put it out there, and even one or two that I've kind of taken a chance on and said, 'look, I'll play this tonight' - those ones seem to be the ones that are getting the best reaction from people, which is lovely to say, and I hope it continues that way.”
With the finality of the occasion dawning as the days and weeks pass to showtime, the conversation turns back to the Marquee - and Greene’s own memories of taking to the stage under the tent.
What started as a pipe dream for a DJ who was just about used to selling out bigger clubs has become an annual appointment, and a marker of her own progress as a draw in her own right.
“I remember about thirteen, fourteen years ago, maybe, playing regular shows in the Savoy. I remember talking to my manager at the time, and we said, 'god, wouldn't it be great to do the Marquee', and that was the pipe-dream thing that would never happen. Fast forward years later, and the Orchestra comes along, and we end up in the Marquee every year. It's one of those gigs, even to this day, you don't get used to it and go, 'ah, sure, it's just another gig'. And
“There's something magical about the Marquee, something about that tent. Probably the most magical part of it is the people of Cork, because you put that tent anywhere else, and it would not have the same atmosphere that it has down there.
“I remember the very first time we played there, I mean, it was just electric. It still is to this day, and the first year I did it, I remember we all spoke afterwards, and we were sitting around, we were saying to ourselves, 'we won't ever have a gig like that again'. But we did, the following year in the same place. It seems to just keep getting better and better every year.
“There was one year down there, there was a heatwave. And I remember even going in, in the afternoon for soundcheck, and it was only literally us, and that entire tent was empty, and you couldn't breathe with the heat. And all we kept thinking was, 'how are we going to manage tonight when this is full?' But everyone just got into it.
“Even just getting everybody back together, none of us have seen each other in years. I only spoke to Gemma Sugrue on the phone yesterday. I haven't seen her in two years, and she is just so excited to get back on stage. We're all really looking forward to it, and just getting to see the orchestra and everybody again, because it just hasn't been possible for so long.”
Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra play Live at the Marquee on Friday, June 24. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.ie. Listen to The Green Room, Sundays to Thursdays, 9pm, on RTÉ 2FM.