- 18 Mar 08
Has an award ceremony in Ireland ever created such an optimistic buzz, or such a feverish sense of righteousness among the music community as the Choice Music Prize?
Vicar St., the venue of the third jubilee, is palpably fizzing with excitement tonight; the 10 nominees wait backstage, hoping to impress the sold-out crowd who’ve pinned hopes (and in some cases, cash) on their favourite Irish album of 2007. Trad revisionists Kíla draw the long straw and are first up; playing to a half-empty venue, they’re met with polite applause which gives way to a murmur of approval for austere electro-wizards Dry County. The Dubliners’ set is enthusiastic, but their facemask attire leads to more than a few "Altern-8 without the tunes" comments to be mumbled by bemused onlookers. Bell X1 man Dave Geraghty fares much better, although his enjoyable musical couplet suffers from sound problems; they’re still not rectified by the time Stan O’Sullivan ambles on stage looking like Pat Shortt’s little brother. Solid performances are delivered by both The Flaws and Adrian Crowley, but it’s left to Delorentos to really get the blood of the collective crowd pumping with their bouncy alt-rock numbers. Thereafter, a blonde-haired vision in blue arrives on stage; it’s Róisín Murphy, delivering a truly outstanding brace of acoustic tracks (‘You Know Me Better’, ‘Overpowered’) that stands head and shoulders above anything else Vicar Street has seen tonight. It’s left to Cathy Davey and Super Extra Bonus Party to maintain the high standard, which they do with aplomb; the former, charmingly halting her performance due to a ‘wardrobe malfunction’, the latter, splaying their cheeky brand of energetic, hurley-waving indietronica across the stage. A brief pause, and organiser Jim Carroll arrives with a lengthy list of thank-yous and the announcement that outsiders SEBP have bagged the gong. There’s chaos and confusion in equal measures; hands are clamped to mouths, heads shaken in disbelief, band members tumble joyfully across the stage. Right Choice? Wrong Choice? When Irish music is celebrated as enthusiastically as it was tonight, it makes scant difference.