Richie Egan aka Jape has won 2009's Choice Music Prize.
The Dubliner last night beat off stiff competition from the likes of Fight Like Apes, Hot Press Readers' favourite Lisa Hannigan and Oppenheimer to win with his 3rd album Ritual.
Long-running bookies favourite, the man himself still seemed surprised to win the award, joking that he thought they were finished for the night after the band opened the show earlier in the evening.
Egan added that even his mother wasn't sure of his chances, smitten as she was with Cork singer Mick Flannery, who'd earlier brought the somewhat chatty crowd to a hush, performing darkly beautiful songs on guitar and piano, backed by a full band.
Jape won the Choice Prize over the nine other bands nominated, with the judges' opinions apparently so divided that a secret ballot was carried out to finally decide the winner.
Six of the groups performed on the night. While Jape and Messiah J & The Expert, who had their three-song sets early in the show, played to a few empty seats, most punters had arrived and were rearing to go for sets from Mick Flannery, Halfset, R.S.A.G. (Rarely Seen Above Ground), and Fight Like Apes, who closed proceedings with a suitably frenzied 'Battlestations'.
Kilkenny and Cork were well-represented in the audience by fans of R.S.A.G and Flannery. The much-hyped (and fittingly, rarely seen live) R.S.A.G. lived up to expectations, drawing one of the biggest reactions of the night from the crowd.
Although The Script and David Holmes did not perform tracks from their nominated albums, both Holmes and Script singer Danny were at the show, and seemed in top form.
Lisa Hannigan and Oppenheimer were unable to attend due to touring commitments.
Accepting his award, Egan said that "all the bands tonight deserved to win," and added that although bands often struggle to survive, they make music because they have to follow their hearts.
"It's better to be a sinking ship, than a rat jumping off a sinking ship," he said.
See the new Hot Press, out next Thursday (March 12), for a full review and pictures from the event.
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