2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize Live 10.10.2012 – LSO St. Luke’s
This evening was part of a series of concerts being held at LSO St. Luke’s London to showcase nominees for the British music industry’s most prestigious album award ceremony – The Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize. Hosted by Radio 1 presenter Nick Grimshaw the show was also filmed to be televised on Channel 4.
First up were Scottish art-school psych rockers Django Django. Their debut album of the same name, released earlier in the year, received acclaim from critics for their unique fusion of psych-pop, roots and electronica. The band (complete with matching shirts and giant tambourines) confidently worked their way through tracks including ‘Hail Bop’, ‘Waveforms’, ‘Default’ and ‘WOR’. They’re clearly excited to be part of this year’s event and put in a high energy performance, seamlessly mixing surf guitars with spacey effects, memorable vocal hooks and lush harmonies to great effect.
After a brief break folk-singer Sam Lee took to the stage with his band to perform tracks from his album ‘Ground of Its Own’. The album is a modern take on traditional gypsy songs from England, Ireland and Scotland. These songs were performed using sparse technical arrangements of trumpet, percussion, violin, cello and mouth harp. Lee’s rich voice (reminiscent of Nick Drake) is soothing and every note was expertly delivered.
Headlining the night was East-London born rapper Ben Drew aka Plan B. Drew has recently been cited as ‘The most influential voice in UK Hip Hop’. His second album ‘Ill Manors’ is the soundtrack to a feature film of the same name. Ill Manors, tackles social issues affecting people on the streets of east London. Written and directed by Drew, ‘Ill Manors’ was placed at number 9 at the UK box office in it’s opening weekend. The album debuted at number 1 in the UK album chart.
Warming up for Plan B was a beat-boxer performing an impressive medley of ‘Seven Nation Army’ into ‘Boom Boom Boom’ by The Outhere Brothers. After this the band then launch into ‘I Am The Narrator’, the second track from Ill Manors. The live line up of drums, guitar and bass definitely added energy that didn’t come across on the record. Drew worked the crowd with a strong set which included tracks titled; ‘Drug Dealer’ and ‘Deepest Shame’. The highlight of the set was the excellent ‘Playing With Fire’ , with it’s big rock guitar sound again giving an extra dimension to the restrained polished production of Ill Manors.
Ben Drew has definitely managed to craft an exceptional album full of relevant social commentary without sacrificing the pop sensibility that makes his music so widely appealing. He’s definitely up there in the running with the best of them to take this year’s prize.