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Meteor Choice Music Prize Live
Celina Murphy, 22 Mar 2012
This particular account of the seventh annual Choice Music Prize live show begins, not in the distinguished surroundings of Dublin’s Olympia Theatre at 7.15pm sharp on March 8, but several hours before, as with so many fateful fables of modern Ireland, in the local bookies.
I had never accurately predicted the winner of the prestigious award before, not even when I was a judge, nor had I ever considered myself a betting woman, so my foray into the seedy world of music prize gambling was almost certainly doomed.
Still, there I stood in what I hoped was a licensed branch of Paddy Power, totally clueless, suitably devoid of gorm, and on the receiving end of several prolonged looks by amused regulars, none of whom could advise me whether it would benefit my pocket to listen to my heart, my head, my gut, or the friend of a friend who’s never gotten it wrong in six years. Ironically, with all these options running through my mind, the winning album didn’t even register.
In different ways, Jape’s Ocean Of Frequency would have been both the smartest and stupidest bet; the spiraling electronic triumph is the band’s fourth record to be emphatically fawned over by critics, and in case you’ve forgotten, they won the blasted thing in 2008 for another album, Ritual. On the other hand, Ocean Of Frequency is a far more eccentric record, and when I spoke to Jape’s Richie Egan last month, he seemed to think his previous win left him totally out of the running, exclaiming, “I’ve got a chance of a snowball in hell of winning!”
Egan’s adorable, unmasked bewilderment at being announced as the winner was categorically the best thing about this year’s ceremony.
Earlier, for the first time in Choice history, all 10 nominees were present to perform, but with only two songs each, there was little time to find their musical feet. Pugwash gave the kind of breezy, kinetic performance that made you want to rush out and buy the album, while a moody, nonchalant set by Patrick Kelleher And His Cold Dead Hands did just the opposite (anyone still on the fence, buy this record, it’s wonderful!) Alt. pop seven-piece Tieranniesaur were at a similar disadvantage, playing to a venue at least ten times bigger than what they’re used to, their typically delightful lo-fi loonery getting somewhat lost in the crowd.