Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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A Full Run Down Of The 2021 Mercury Awards

I think we can all agree that last year was a year like no other; a sudden change that left us binge watching Tiger King, finding virtual pub quizzes the source of entertainment and twisting our brains into thinking we would be the next Mary Berry after making one semi-successful loaf of banana bread. A global pandemic resulted in a completely unprecedented time for us all, us Brits even began to coin the phrase ‘the new normal’ about completely abnormal social situations, much like the way award shows went ahead. 2020’s Mercury Awards bizarrely took place on The One Show, where a short clip was played of Michael Kiwanuka when was told he had won the Mercury Prize and that was pretty much as far as the celebrations went, not ideal”…

But, as the optimist saying goes, nothing lasts forever, and so thankfully, the Mercury Awards were back in full swing at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo on the 9th September to celebrate some of the best albums of 2021.

The evening kicked off with an electrifying pulse as the infectious bassline of Wolf Alice’s hit single Smile off of third album ‘Blue Weekend’ shook the cobwebs off of an audience who have been mourning the loss of live music over the past 18 months. Accompanied by backing vocals by Izzy Bee Philips from Black Honey and acoustic guitar back up from Bloody Knees, the band pulled out all the stops, leading to a performance roaring with energy and persuading enough to be the second band ever to win the Mercury prize twice.

After an entrance from a sparkly Lauren Laverne, the nominees were listed and the crowd went from sophisticated music lovers to something akin to what you’d hear at a football match, as individual fans stood and cheered for their favourite bands and artists.

Pumping the crowd with adrenaline and warmth, Laura Mvula performed her rendition of Church Girl from the nominated album ‘Pink Noise’, which was soon to be juxtaposed by the spine tingling vocals of Celeste. Wrapping the audience in a blanket of darkness, the soft notes of Strange from her debut album ‘Not Your Muse’ stepped into the room, soon followed by the rich tones of Celeste’s soulful voice – a lullaby that you can’t help but stay awake for.

Hannah Peel was next to hypnotise the audience with her track Emergence In Nature from fourth record ‘Fir Wave’, an unconventional dance track which you could imagine pixies dancing round a tree at dusk to. After a performance from Mogwai showcasing their tenth record ‘As The Love Continues’ with their ‘only conventional pop song’ Ritchie Sacramento, various nominees who couldn’t attend had their music showcased via pre recorded video, including the likes of Floating Points with ‘Promises’ and SAULT with ‘Untitled (Rise)’.

Next to grace the stage was Nubya Garcia with Pace from her second album ‘SOURCE’ who put the audience in a jazzy haze with a world class cosmopolitan performance.

Complete with a chorus choir dressed in burgundy tracksuits, knuckle duster microphone attachment and a prop of an opened umbrella which left many slightly uneasy, Ghetts took to the stage and gave an extremely powerful performance of Fine Wine from nominated album ‘Conflict Of Interest’.

And we wouldn’t be championing music correctly if there wasn’t a bit of weirdness would we? Black Country, New Road were next to give a brilliantly bizarre performance of Track X from ‘For The First Time’, as cheers roared from fans of the band, many others seemed more intrigued about frontman Isaac Wood’s outfit choice. Shoes, socks, cargo shorts, t-shirt and a snorkel? I mean they’d definitely win if the award was for getting dressed in the dark.

Making history as the first artist to be nominated for the Mercury Prize from a mixtape alone, BERWYN was sensationally received with his thought provoking performance of Glory from his debut mixtape ‘DEMOTAPE/VEGA’, the thunderous applause after his piece certainly left the artist as the underdog for the award.

The performances were closed with the harmonious twinkles from what we later discovered to be our winner, 21-year-old, Arlo Parks. Performing third track Too Good from her award winning album ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’, Parks sprinkled the venue with all round good vibes and something I feel the whole audience more than agreed was deserving of the one of the most prestigious prizes in music.

A night full of beautifully eclectic live music and a discovery of some of the most incredible albums to grace 2021 with for others, the event was a magical experience for all of us music lovers who have sorely missed the great celebrations to congratulate the industry. Until next year…

Words by Izzy Sigston

Posted On 4 October, 2022