The Mercury Music Prize is always the hot industry ticket and after last night, I think few could argue it really is the very best Awards Show of the bunch. Judges are refreshed annual and they vote for the best Album, a full body of an artist’s work that year.
And did the artists rise to it? Yes they seriously brought it….. Every performance raised the bar and engulfed the audience in heart-throbbing energy, even after a three course meal. The production was jaw-droppingly precise and the sound quality never waived from perfect regardless of the psychopathic genre switching from Nao to Idles, violent dance capers from the Fontaines, stage/table/Boris mask antic of SlowThai. It felt more like a brilliant gig than a stayed industry ceremony. Dave’s win was a heck of a surprise that had me on my feet jumping up and down, not a surprise because the quality of psychodrama is well known in my circles, but more because it was recognised so widely across the nation and genres. For us at Small Green Shoots that album is a beacon of honesty and vulnerability for young people in a musical world often considered focused on criminality, machismo & the joys of shopping at Selfridges. It’s candor and conscientiousness changed the game for many young men I know, reflecting the fears, insecurities and worries of black and/or broke boys the nation over. I have to mention Anna Calvi, who converted me after the second bar of her track and the absolutely brilliant industry-favourites “Idles” who lit up the stage and offered the stand out performance of a night or stand out performances.
Seeing the formidable duo of Alex Spargo and Maggie Crowe wandering the floor always lets you know you are going to a slick production, but the Mercury’s last night were on a completely different level.