Conrad Duncan in awe of Sharon Van Etten at the InstituteWritten by Conrad Duncan on 23rd January 2015
Alt-J win the Mercury Prize 2012
Thursday 1st November 2012 saw the big, little, old and new names of the British indie music industry flock to Camden’s Roundhouse for the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize
“The awards ceremony presented the acts with the chance to strut their stuff on stage, have a nice nervous meal and then drink too much for the purposes of celebration or commiseration.
The list of nominees was pleasingly eclectic this year. Plan B kicked off the performance proceedings, showcasing his album Ill Manors with the single of the same name. The indomitable Roundhouse venue proved its worth through a selection of stages. One was up in the rafters and would later be graced by stellar performances from Richard Hawley and The Maccabees, but for now it was Plan B who ran around it during a strobe lit, balaclava filled rendition of his song that would have left any middle class spectators at the dinner tables below sitting a little less comfortably.
Equally strong but perhaps less intimidating and politically incisive were pieces from Django Django (who played ‘Wor’ in coordinated outfits and with determined groove), Alt-J, brothers from Sunderland Field Music and the saviour of the English folk song, Sam Lee who even brought his ‘jaw harp’ along for the occasion. Roller Trio were extremely impressive as the only purely instrumental act of the night, doing their bit for the Leeds improv and jazz scene with a flawless arrangement of ‘The Interrupters’. Michael Kiwanuka appeared like a soulful and bearded angel on the raised stage. His performance of ‘Tell Me a Tale’ demonstrated some cracking jazz flute, and a poignancy that is typical of his live acts but lacking in his album Home Again. The heartache was heaped on further by Lianne La Havas and Jessie Ware who both dressed and sang particularly beautifully. Ben Howard rattled out ‘The Fear’ from his album Every Kingdom, apt as he seemed a bit nervous and never really moved up a gear into his usual rasping intensity. Nonetheless, every performance was striking and a welcome reminder of the wonders of live music versus albums sweated and fretted over in a studio.
“There could only be one winner though, and the bookies were right all along.