- 06 Mar 20
The awards show made it clear that Ireland still holds the monopoly on talent across multiple genres of music.
The RTÉ Choice Music Prize Awards have become an annual reminder that the Irish music industry is teeming with some of the world’s most impressive musicians. From Daithí’s collaborative electronic album L.O.S.S. to Junior Brother’s stunning debut Pull The Right Rope, the albums released by Irish artists in 2019 are nothing short of genre-defining. In Vicar Street, the enraptured audience we were treated to an eclectic set of performances from a bulk of the nominees.
Lankum's The Livelong Day picked up the well-deserved award for Album of the Year, while the publicly voted award for Song of the Year went, to Westlife for 'Hello My Love'. While Lankum are currently in New York on tour, their manager was on hand to deliver the band's heartfelt thanks, graciously praising the other nominees. One of the evening's more bizarre moments came when Westlife manager Louis Walsh, who accepted the Song of the Year award on behalf of the band, appeared not to know who the nominees for Album of the Year were.
Maija Sofia opened proceedings on the night, moving the crowd with a gentle set of tunes from her fantastic album Bath Time, dedicated to women who have been historically wronged by men. "The Wife of Michael Cleary" remains, in my opinion and lyrically speaking, one of the best songs of the year.
Up next is SOAK. A consummate performer, she and her band took over to give the crowd a high-energy set from her catchy alt-pop album Grim Town.
Kerry folk master Ronan Kealy – aka Junior Brother – nominated for Pull The Right Rope, delivered a breathtaking set in his signature heavy brogue, shifting effortlessly between the soft, heart wrenching breakup ballad "The Back of Her" and the gritty staccato of "Coping". Kealy certainly commanded the attention of a sizeable crowd.
Next to the stage is Jafaris, the rapper currently making intense waves in the Irish hip-hop scene. Nominated for his album Stride, the Dublin-based hip-hop artist nearly brings down the house with his infectious intensity.
Sorcha Richardson comes as a welcome respite, performing a firm-yet-gentle set of tunes from her fabulous debut venture First Prize Bravery.
One of the uncontested highlights of the evening is Daithí, an enigmatic electronic artist who blends the analogue and the traditional. Fiddle in hand, he takes the stage for a revelatory set of songs. Sinead White joins him to perform their single "Orange," from his incredible L.O.S.S., and it's a wonder the crowd can pay attention to anything else.
Fontaines D.C. slayed with songs from their roaring debut album Dogrel, the ceiling-shattering energy rippling through the cavernous venue as frontman Grian Chatten shouts "sister sister, how I missed ya, missed ya", from their hit "Boys In The Better Land".
Capping off the night is Mick Flannery, nominated for his eponymous seventh studio album. He sings three songs, all of which could be characterised in different genres.
It's a perfect end to the evening, showcasing the sound diversity in this year's nominees.