It was a triumph for "forward-thinking music", or so proclaimed the Nu –rave band, Klaxtons, as they scooped last night's prestigious £20,000 Mercury Prize.In the finest tradition of the prize, which is now synonymous with celebrating the freshest new acts on the Indy music scene, few could have guessed it would be these rank outsiders who would be standing on the podium and whooping for joy.
Prediction and hype was confounded, as ever, as the three-piece London band claimed the prize for their debut album, Myths of the Near Future, released at the beginning of the year.
They had been up against relatively established acts such as Brit award winner, Amy Winehouse, and previous Mercury victors, Dizzee Rascal and Arctic Monkeys. Collecting the award from presenter Jools Holland, band-member James Righton, who was wearing his leg in plaster after a misjudged stage dive some weeks ago, expressed his incredulity at the joyous outcome, while Jamie Reynolds and Simon Taylor watched on. "A year ago, we were recording this album, and we were watching the Arctic Monkeys collecting their Mercury, and we were thinking, 'we're also going to make a great album'. The award's about great music, and that's what we've made," he said. Predictions by music industry aficionados had varied wildly before the winner was announced at the ceremony in Grosvenor House Hotel, London but the Klaxtons had not been on many people's lips.
The band, consisting of frontman, Reynolds as well as keyboard player James Righton and guitarist Simon Taylor, have only been together for two years and their success story echoes the meteoric rise of the Sheffield act, Arctic Monkeys. Their first two singles were limited to 500 copies each but created such a buzz that they gained significant critical acclaim.
The NME rated their album among the top ten in Britain, and hailed their album as remaining "one of the most dynamic, intense and totally lunatic pop records of the early 21st century."
Their spirit has been likened to the legendary 1980s rave band, The KLF, known for their wit pop subversion. The group has also been nominated in the MTV Europe Music Awards as well as in the BT Digital Music Awards, and they recently played at the Glastonbury Festival. Curiously, they said they would donate prize winnings to a "telepathy charity".
Some had foreseen a second consecutive victory for last year's winners, Arctic Monkeys, while others had tipped Winehouse for triumph. Many argued that it would be newcomers Jamie T or Bat for Lashes who would pick up the accolade. Whether Winehouse picked up the prize or not, her future was the most popular subject of debate at the ceremony. The Jazz diva, who earned a Mercury nomination for her first album, Frank, in 2003, had only just got back from a Caribbean break following a string of cancelled performances, amid speculation of a possible breakdown. She was admitted to hospital last month after a reported overdose and it was rumoured she would not turn up to the ceremony. As it happened, she arrived early, joked with fellow musicians and gave an impeccably cool performance of the single, "Love is a Losing Game". But speaking about Winehouse's talents, Reynolds said he was "not surprised" her "retro" sounds had not won."Reuse content