A decade on, PJ Harvey rises again to win second Mercury
Rob Sharp is a freelance journalist specialising in arts and culture. He was on staff at The Independent from July 2007 to December 2011, first as a features writer, and then as the paper’s arts correspondent. He has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. For more information visit his website, www.robsharp.com or email him at email@example.com.
Wednesday 07 September 2011
The last time PJ Harvey won the Mercury Prize, the 11 September terrorist attacks stopped her from flying from the US to London to accept the award. Last night, nearly a decade later to the day, she was able to walk on stage to pick it up in person, making history as the only artist ever to have won it twice.
Harvey accepted the £20,000 accolade for her February album Let England Shake, which was inspired by the poetry of TS Eliot, the work of Harold Pinter and worldwide conflict over the last 10 years.
"When I last won I was in Washington DC watching the Pentagon burn from my hotel window," said Harvey upon accepting her trophy.
"So much has happened since then. I wanted to make something meaningful and to make something that would last." She later added that to "have the chance to be here to receive an award means a great deal to me".
She said there was a link between 9/11 and the work. During her research she read the testimonies of soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The greater urgency that I felt to write an album like this now is because of what has happened in the last 10 years," she said.
Simon Frith, the chairman of the award's judging panel, said the decision was reached unanimously and added that "it's an interesting example of an artist having a complete conception. It's about something. It's a kind of song cycle. There's nothing you can imagine changing in it."
The ceremony, held at London's Grosvenor House hotel, began with the south London rapper Tinie Tempah performing a guitar-heavy medley of tracks taken from his nominated album Disc-Overy.
The night's stand-out performances included Bangor pianist Gwilym Simcock, who rounded off by plucking at his piano strings through the open top of his grand piano. "It was a privilege to represent the many great instrumental musicians in this country who don't always get the opportunity to be heard," he said.
Elbow received a rapturous welcome from the audience when they performed the title track from their fifth album, Build a Rocket Boys!
"As music fans, to be on the list with old and new heroes, it means the world," said the band's lead singer, Guy Garvey. He also thanked the evening's host, Jools Holland.
Earlier in the evening, Harvey appeared on stage wearing a flamboyant, feathered headdress for a typically tight rendition of "The Words That Maketh Murder" from her wining album. She first won the Mercury Prize in 2001 for her fifth studio album, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.
Another nominee, Adele, failed to perform because of a chest infection. The audience was shown footage of her track "Rolling in the Deep". The other nominees were Simcock, James Blake, Katy B, King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, Metronomy, Everything Everything, Ghostpoet and Anna Calvi.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 4 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 5 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >