THE BRITS - WHO CARES?
The Brits came and went last week. What are they? Well, I suppose they are the British rock and pop awards, although I use the word "rock" advisedly and have been going for...well, too long, if what was on offer the other night was anything to go by. They take place in London, probably in the O2 which is packed to the rafters with screaming fans who hopefully get to see the action on big screens, otherwise they are peering at ants jumping up and down in the distance. Closer to the action are those sitting in the middle, like the nominees, people from the "industry" and the bankers who would afford the ticket price or those who are getting freebies, and last year kept popping up behind presenter, James Corden, slightly out of their faces and waggling their bottles of beer.
The venue might be part of the problem, it's huge and soulless. The cheers of the distant crowd seem to kick-in slightly late, like some sort of wonky laughter track. Our host, James Corden who looks like a chubby Thunderbirds puppet, does his best to remove any sort of atmosphere by sitting beside some nominees or other luvvies and chatting to them and cracking the odd joke. Odd - in subject matter and in frequency. Most of these died on their faces -quick, somebody add in a real laughter track even if it does sound hollow. The closest he came to being funny was asking "One Direction" stud machine Harry Styles if he was going to move in on either Sharon Osbourne or Annie Lennox that led to the most "risky" part of the evening when purple-haired, slightly-tipsy granny, Sharon, made a crack about Harry's willy while she was presenting an award.
Willy jokes (and I use the word "jokes" advisedly)? But is that it? Where were the Brits of old? When they either had some ragged edges because of all the presenter gaffs around missing out the nominations, or getting the mikes wrong, or....? Yeah, doesn't sound very edgy, does it, but compared to the other night's "sit-and-watch-this-thing-slurp-over-you-like-an-alien-organism-about-to create-your-doppelganger" affair, back in the day it was something worth investing a few hours in Or they had something approaching off-the-wall edge when Jarvis Cocker would jump on stage while Michael Jackson was surrounded by a bunch of kids, or some pissed-out-his-face geezer came on and took the mike from Ronnie Wood. What we also got was Corden playing continual lip-service to his major gaff of cutting off Adele (who had just become the biggest act on the planet, before going interstellar) last year to introduce "Blur". In five years time, God help us, when he is still hosting the Brits he'll still be going on about this.
As for the awards themselves, it was nice to see local lass- Emili Sande - pick up a couple, but who cares? Not me. I'd rather look out for the Mercury Award winners, or the BBC folk awards, as well as the Kerrang Awards or Metal Hammer's bash, or Jazzwise's best of the year, or anything except this. Apart from getting a Damian Hirst designed award, which looked like an Oscar with the measles, it'll be interesting to see which of the winners appears on future editions of "Pointless" as the Brit award winner we can't remember, like - hang on, the list is too big for this blog, although Harry's willy got it's revenge (and the rest of him) as "One Direction" took the world domination award with alien overlord Simon Cowell grinning from the shadows as his masterplan comes to fruition - check out "The Sound of Muzak" by Porcupine Tree if you want a look at that plan - you have been warned.
Which brings me to the music. I remember great duets from (the goddess that is) PJ Harvey and Bjork doing "Satisfaction", or Andy Bell from "Erasure" and KD Lang performing "No More Tears (Enough is Enough) and you know just be reading that title how brilliant is was. Even as recently as the last few years we've had the Pet Shop Boys and Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers performing, or Florence and the Machine and Dizzee Rascal giving us a bonkers offering. Even in these times of musical austerity it can be done. What did we get the other night? We get Taylor Swift in virginal white, whipping off her wedding dress-like affair to reveal the inner bland. Justin Timberlake (who once did a duet with Kylie at a Brits a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) was Mr. Showbiz, or Mr. Plastic, and then their was "Mumford and Sons". "Sounds like a removal firm," quips Corden (where's that dammed laughter track when we need it?) and if only someone would take them away. A friend of mine bought me their first album a couple of years ago and I had never heard of them, but now they have gone-large with Grammy's galore sticking out their waistcoat pockets. At Celtic Connections a couple of years ago in the bowels of Glasgow's "Oran Mor" I caught a band who sounded like The Prodigy with added bagpipes (hey, you have to get into Celtic Connections somehow), and they were excellent. Their support were a bunch of spruced up handsome highland boys wearing waistcoats with big hair and stubble trying to be "M&Sons", it's a whole new line in vacuum bands, and as the originals stay in America or only play twenty sell out nights out at the O2, or three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium, more of these wannabes will surely becoming our way.
Next year at Brits time, I might take the dog for a walk, although it's cold in February, or sit in the house and listen to some of Radio Scotland's excellent musical offerings that are sandwiched in between Bryan Burnett's "Get it On" or Iain Anderson's late night show. If I'm lucky, it might be Vic Galloway, or "The Jazz House" or "Another Country with Ricky Ross" or all things Americana with Roddy Hart. Or here's an idea, I might actually go and catch some good, honest live music in a pub or a club which is about as far removed from Britsdom as you can get.