Mercury Prize 2005
The Mercury Music Prize (properly know this year as The Nationwide Mercury Prize) is one of the more worthwhile awards events, as it doesn't pander to popularity alone, giving real artists of any level and any genre the recognition they deserve. Of the twelve shortlisted albums that Mercury celebrated this year - as the event acknowledges studio albums, not artists or individual songs - there were some familiar faces from the current indie rock/pop crowd: Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Maximo Park and the highest of high profiles in Coldplay (who didn't actually appear, no, no, far too big for that!), but there was a majority of lesser known talents, including new jazz band Polar Bears and indie/folk fiddler Seth Lakeman from Dartmoor. In the middle ground there was my tip for greatness early in the year, Miss K. T. Tunstall from Fife, whose reproduction of the Later With Jools Holland performance of her single Black Horse and the Cherry Tree is still one of the most electric things I've seen for years. But the whole show bristled with raw energy and stupid amounts of talent - every single act was great live, endorsing their worthiness even more. And nothing could be truer when talking about the "winner", the weird and perhaps wonderful Antony and the Johnsons - you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as Antony himself played the piano and warbled his way through a soulful ballad in his own radically unique style. I have to admit he is relatively new to me, but once you hear him you can't forget it - it is a haunting style that jars an ear tuned to mundanity at first, but then beguiles it in a frighteningly resonant way. And that is why he got a standing ovation from the knowing crowd, and that is why he walked off with the gong, so that our awareness of this exceptionally individual talent is heightened as it should be, love it or hate it. I'm undecided but I will certainly give the album - Now I Am A Bird a very serious listen.