There are many rock music awards, but none quite like those given out by Q. For a start, the stars turn up to collect them, even if, as with the Rolling Stones' guitarist, this is a time of day they seldom see. Also, they are brief, with no live performances and no live television link, so the stars actually get to talk to one another and about one another. That, for us eavesdroppers, is where the fun begins. Take the Scottish band Travis, nominated for the Best Newcomer Award. Much muttering from other bands ensued: "They've got two albums out. What's all this 'newcomer' stuff?"
Some of the dirt was dished in public. The novelist Will Self, presenting the Best Band in the World Today award did it from the stage. With no hint of a smile or a tongue in his cheek the writer looked over at the table containing the 55-year-old Richards and his fellow Stone Ronnie Wood, 52, and said: "I hope it doesn't go to some super group who have to be Zimmerframed on to the stage in some stadium in Sao Paulo."
Some of the bands were alsohonest about the hyperbole attached to the ceremony. Accepting the Best Act in the World Today award, the Blur singer Damon Albarn said: "It doesn't seem very objective, this award, considering we don't sell any records in the USA." A fellow band member, getting into the spirit of the occasion, chimed in: "But nor do U2 or REM."
Presenting Richards with his award, Bob Geldof said the Stones had defined British rock music, particularly its "snotty" aggressive stance. Richards was "a human riff", Geldof said, adding: "He is the coolest cat - people kill for that cool, he doesn't even have to try."
Richards said: "This is November and I get a man of the year award. You get to be man of the year for two months."
THE Q WINNERS
Best Single: "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" - Travis
Best New Act: Basement Jaxx
Best Live Act: Stereophonics
Best Album: Surrender - Chemical Brothers
Best Act in The World Today: Blur
Q Classic Songwriter: Ian Dury and Chas Jankel
Best Producer: William Orbit for Blur's 13
Q Inspiration Award: New Order
Q Special Merit Award: Keith Richards