Last year’s IFTA ceremony penned a new low into Ireland’s social diary. Though us Irish are long accustomed to awkward scripts, celebrity no-shows, and function rooms transformed into Oscar aping sets á la Dealz, few could have predicted the medley of failure that was the 2014 Irish Film and Television Awards.
It’s a low that eases some pressure off the organisers of the 10th Meteor Choice Prize, as hoards of thirty-something’s make their way into the Vicar Street venue. Whatever happens tonight, they won’t have another IFTAs on their hands. Surely.
Before any formalities commence, Song of the Year nominee, Kormac’s Big Band are first to take to the stage, performing their nominated track Wake Up. With a keen ear for the vintage and newfangled, Kormac’s mix of live turntables, touchpads and brass instrumentation expand the diminutive confines of the venue. If its organisers wanted to begin with a bang, they couldn’t have chosen a better act.
As the hypnotic siren of Drown Me dulls to silence, Today FM’s Paul McLoone walks to the rostrum. Forever on the edge of loosing his audience, his oddball wit is a mixed bag of the comedic and cringe-worthy. Fearing his ship could sink without warning, McLoone assumes the role of paranoid captain – endlessly apologising for nominee no-shows, performance delays and sound errors. Wearing, but the Derry native has just enough charm to pull it off.
Garage rock favourites, The Minutes are next, strutting their very own blend gritty riffs and attitude. Some initial sound issues can’t stop the trio from pummelling the eardrums with two tracks from their latest LP, including the Meteor nominated Cherry Bomb. An irresistibly tense jam builds before breaking into the explosive chorus of Hold Your Hand. A standing ovation follows. Enough said.
A muted reaction accompanies the awarding of ‘Best Song of the Year’ to The Script’s Superhero, and as yet another pre-recorded interview is projected onto the big screen, the audience becomes increasingly detached from proceedings.
Our first Best Album of the Year nominee, The Riptide Movement, seek to turn the heat up by performing three tracks. But their radio-friendly guitar-pop fails to gel with its live environment. Though the chart topping It All Works Out gets some of the more inebriated legs moving, the quartet’s Mumford-meets-Slade theatrics seem dated and downright grating.
A change of act forces another lengthy equipment reshuffle before our second Album of the Year nominee, We Cut Corners, arrive on stage. Undoubtedly the weakest performance of the night, the Delphi label signed duo fail to grab the attention of a single onlooker thanks to a mix of awkward vocals and dull riffs. As the ceremony reaches its lowest ebb, downstairs chatter rises to the balcony seating. Something truly special is required to revive the ceremony’s flagging fortunes.
“I’m sorry my guitar was out of tune so I had to improvise, people might think I’m a fucking jazz guitarist. Oh shit – did I curse on live radio? I’m a badass… Lets hope this keyboard is in tune.” Despite being forced to play Gold in the wrong key, James Vincent McMorrow casts an unerring spell over his audience – cloaking the venue in a spectral silence. Performing without his backing band, a solitary McMorrow effortlessly draws tears and raises hairs before receiving the second and longest standing ovation of the night.
At last, we’re on a roll, but as the forever-brilliant Delorentos perform three tracks from their stellar big label release Night Becomes Light, the show ends.
The spotlights soften as the nominees for Album of the Year are catalogued in the name of formality. Overhearing some bar-side conversations prior to the show suggested that this category was a two horse race between Hozier’s self titled debut and McMorrow’s second LP, ‘Post Tropical.’
They were wrong.
Irish American trad outfit The Gloaming are declared the eventual winners, scooping a cheque for €10,000, evoking a mixed response. A surprise decision? Yes, but one nonetheless deserving given the ethereal beauty of their eponymous debut.
In spite of the suspect jokes and inconsistent live performances, it was Delorentos’ Kieran McGuinness who brought the importance of the Meteor’s home: “It’s really important for us to have this event. It’s a struggle for us some of the time.” Our music industry, like the very show that celebrates it, may not be perfect, but its very existence is something certainly worth celebrating.