Unfortunately, I can't tell you whether Jape's live performance lived up to the success of his now Choice Music Prize winning album Ritual, but judging from the crowd's roar when his name was called out, let's assume it did. Terribly unprofessional, I know. Apparently a girl can't allow herself dinner and a cup of tea (basic human right I'd say) without missing almost a third of the entire show! I arrived at Vicar St at the still reasonable hour of 8.30pm to find that not only had I missed Jape's opening set but also a performance from Messiah J & The Expert as well as the Muzu.tv videos for Lisa Hannigan and Oppenheimer. Who do these Choice Music people think they are, starting on time, huh?
Each act was preceded by a short video feature courtesy of the lovely people at Muzu.tv, and I arrived just in time to catch the one for Mick Flannery. With a crowd that was attentive as ever when an act was performing, they were less so during videos, and Flannery appeared on stage remarking "Did anyone understand a word of that?" He proceeded to play three tracks that soared between subdued balladry and gripping wall of sound, still rooted by his suitably gruff vocals.
Host Alison Curtis did a reasonable job of adlibbing when Halfset took longer than your average to get themselves set up, but some naf joking and audience participation later they were onstage playing their ambient electronics layered over keyboard, guitar and drums. Their performance was somewhat overshadowed by their thought-provoking, entertaining and thoroughly excellent visuals – ladybugs being crushed in Venus fly traps, comical religious signage and crazily odd stock motion animation.
The Script's promotional video was the video for "We Cry." The Script couldn't play live because of touring commitments in Europe, but lead singer Danny O'Donaghue was present. I even saw him myself up on balcony D. I also spotted 2FMs Jenny Houston up there. Who knows what other minor celebrities might have been wandering about?
If the winner of the Choice Music Prize were based solely on their performance tonight, no doubt Jeremy Hickey, or R.S.A.G., would have walked away with that €10,000. For one man with only a drum-kit and a backing track, he gave an utterly riveting and surely exhausting performance. The combinations of complex rhythms and the speed and accuracy with which he played clearly engrossed the audience and earned him the night's only clap-along.
David Holmes Muzu video put contrasting footage of riots, a party and an old gentleman on top of his single, "I Heard Wonders" before Fight Like Apes were preceded by their excellent watercolour style video for "Tie Me Up With Jackets." I should probably keep my opinion of FLA's live stylings to myself, seeing as if I called them a bunch of gimps, I'd surely be hit with a horrendous backlash. Suffice it to say, you need to be either be off your face or clinically insane to pull off that kind of arsery. I have the sad suspicion that FLA are neither. Rolling on the floor (surrounded by shameless photographers), pulling keyboards on top of yourself and giving out to an audience (that aren't your fans) for not singing along is not classy. Good songs though, and spectacular vocals from May Kay.
So, all that remains is to say a hearty congrats to Richie Egan and Jape on their win. May the €10,000 kindly provided by IMRO and IRMA go some way to making an equally excellent album next time round.
To see the photos from last night, make your way to here.