If there’s one thing Meteor Music Awards does peerlessly, it’s living up to everyone’s expectations. As a showbiz event, it knows its public inside out and feeds them everything they want, like zookeepers throwing fish at penguins. Indie snobs mightn’t like it but, as it proves year-in, year-out, this show isn’t for them – just witness State’s efforts to offload a spare ticket to three separate arts journalists: one didn’t reply; another scoffed, ‘Lord, rather you than me’; and a third snapped, ‘I’d rather suck my eyeballs out with a Dyson.’
Having reality TV’s homecoming queen, Amanda Byram, host this year’s Awards tells you all you need to know about the target audience – the emphasis is on glamour and glitz, as the great, the good, the GrÃ¡inne and the Glenda thrill an ecstatic teenybop crowd with copious photo opportunities. They’ve come from all over the country to test the ear-splitting limits of their larynxes, some even armed with personalised banners for that Winning Streak ‘I’m on the telly’ touch.
For their entertainment, there’s a constant rotation of musical acts on the stage as the slickly choreographed TV operation swings seamlessly into action. The effortlessly dull Stereophonics open the show, with a five-minute, five-song medley, to remind us who they used to be. Kelly Jones has done enough of these shows to know what poses to strike and when, and he barely puts a pout wrong. Not to be out-blanded, white-soul pin-up boy James Morrison (Best International Male) ebulliently plucks his Broken Strings, charming the girls and their mums in the process.
Duke Special administers some sinister brolly-action during his rollocking, am-dram vaudeville rendition of Sweet Sweet Kisses, but all the early-evening screaming goes to Enrique Iglesias, who gets lost amongst adoring arms during his latest offering of wibbling Euro bubblegum, Taking Back My Love.
It takes storming performances from Imelda May (Best Irish Female), The Blizzards (Best Live Performance) and Elbow (Best International Band – ‘never heard of them’ comments a teenybopper beside me) to give the stage some long overdue cred – but the night still, somehow, belongs to Boyzone.
Their pull is extraordinary; five men who can’t really dance, can’t really sing and who somehow get away with the odd catchy tune (in tonight’s case, Love You Anyway) but understand that, fundamentally, this is showbusiness, and manage to project it to devotees and cynics alike. Fair play to Ronan and the lads – and it’s nice to note that the dapper Mikey Graham chose a fetching hat over that John Travolta-style spray-on hair for the occasion.
But it’s the business end of the Meteor Awards that provide the most cringes and the fewest shocks. Byram changes her frock during each of the commercial breaks, and there are more air kisses and projectile-nauseating platitudes than you can shake a Seoige at. An endless succession of the usual suspects take to the stage to hand over gongs: Craig Doyle, Lucy Kennedy, Lorraine Keane, Caroline Morahan, Pat Kenny, Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh, Anna Nolan, Sonia Lennon, Brendan Courtney and GrÃ¡inne and Sile all bring their scripted rock -n’ roll gravitas to the podium and share their bewilderment with the masses. Padraig Harrington looks like he really needs to be elsewhere but the worst horror of all is the shocking piece of female blonde-ing between model Caprice and MTV’s Laura Whitmore. Of all the award-presenters, only Rick O’Shea provides some spontaneous wit and a sense of what The Meteors could be if it turned into a bona fide music event rather than simply a glossy, Social & Personal, VIP paparazzi fashion shoot.
As for the awards themselves, well, let’s put it this way: the story of State’s night is sitting cross-fingered, hoping for outcomes that just fail to materialise – right up to our wish for a titanic power failure just before Mundy and Sharon Shannon get up onstage for their murderous finale of Galway Girl.
The winners in full were:
Best Radio DJ – National (PV)
Ray Foley – Today FM
Best Radio DJ – Regional (PV)
Dermot, Dave and Siobhan – Dublin’s 98
Best Irish Band (PV)
Best Irish Pop Act (PV)
Best Irish Album (PV)
The Script – The Script
Best Irish Female (PV)
Best Irish Male (PV)
Best Irish Live Performance (PV)
The Blizzards – OXEGEN
Best Intl Live Performance
Leonard Cohen – IMMA
Best International Band
Best International Female
Best International Male
Best International Album
Only by the night – Kings of Leon
RTE 2FM Hope for 2009
Most Downloaded Song
Galway Girl by Sharon Shannon and Mundy
Lifetime Achievement Award
Niall Stokes Founder of Hotpress
Fr. Shay Cullen, Preda Foundation