Thursday, February 10, 2005

EVENTUALLY, IT ARRIVES ON THE TELEVISION: Brits Live (except, of course, that the programme isn't) Once the sponsorship credit is out the way, we're welcomed by Chris Evans doing a bit schitck about - hey - the Brit prize is the "little lady everyone wants to take home". He also says that it's 25 years since this started, although surely it's not - this is the 25th, but they didn't do it every year at first. It's a bit like Easter in that respect.

Oh, brilliant - as if it wasn't stale enough, ITV have gone for a filmy-effect on the video, so it feels even further in the past. Which is an effect having Chris Evans present doesn't help, either - he makes it feel like it's from the olden days much more than you might have expected. A period piece.

The Scissor Sisters open up: Jake is dressed as the lower half of a chicken (oh, the cock gags are endless); Ana is a slightly horrible yellow dress. And is that Octavia the Ostrich from Pipkins? Blimey, she's let herself go.

A cutaway reveals Brian May looking a bit perplexed. That's before the melons start singing and the dancing eggs come on (a tribute, surely, to Ludwig?)

They've obviously been invited to sing the first song because it's called Take Your Mama. If you want to close the Brits, try doing a song called 'Is There A Cab Here For Barlow?'

Robbie tries to pretend he's surprised when Evans says two of Take That are presenting the best single evah prize... but, ho-ho, it's only Lucas and the bloke from Attachments doing a reprise of Rock profile. They give Robbie the prize for Angels - presumably, surely, still part of the joke, is it? Oh, no. They mean it. Robbie dedicates his award to the media "after all the support of the last few days" and "my boyfriend Jake Shears." (He has to sneak back later to thank Guy Chambers).

But is Angels really the best song of the last 25 years? As if to offer a suggestion of something better, Franz Ferdinand come on stage to do Take Me Out. Robbie doesn't seem to notice, or hand the award back.

Jo Whiley clearly got to Mark One as it was closing, judging by the Hardman Street dress she's wearing when she comes on to present British Breakthrough - the sort of band she "plays on my show", of course.

Hang about - some members of the public are coming onto the stage... oh, no, it's Keane. They thank everyone like they'll never win an award again in their life. And then go on a bit too long. Surely the one advantage of this being on tape is they could edit this stuff down?

Brian May - still looking bemused - comes on to do some business with Chris Evans. "You ain't going to get comedy out of me this early" mutters May. That makes two of you, then. Just do the Kerrang vote stuff, Brian.

The nominees prove that "rock music is alive in Britain" says Brian, ignoring that the category was padded out by Snow Patrol - and, actually, the winners Franz Ferdinand are hardly going to fill the gap left if Iron Maiden disappeared, are they?

I suppose we should be greatful Daniel and Natasha didn't do Somethin' Stupid. But not doing something too incestuous doesn't really let Daniel off his bellowing his way through Ain't Nobody. It's clear that Natasha got all of the family's share of talent, which wasn't that generous to begin with. Daniel is wearing a suit which suggests he's had an interview for a junior management position at DFS Sofas this afternoon.

Hang about... there are some guys with drums... they've all gone Ruritanian. Where, presumably, a bloke is allowed to look at his sister in a way that we might deem creepy here.

Simon Pegg shuffles on with the air of the one out of Spaced who didn't go on to be in According To Bex - i.e. the one with a career still. He's going to give Best International Breakthrough. To the Scissor Sisters. Ana has changed into something more becoming and sparkly. And Jake is appearing on Tv for the first time ever wearing a shirt. Maybe that's the breakthrough?

Evans keeps muttering on about how the bands are "one for one" or something, which doesn't really make much sense.

Mike Skinner starts his tune by dropping a bottle of beer on the floor - that's what happens when there's a free bar. Dry Your Shoes, mate. Aah... hang about, it's just dawned on us who Robbie is trying to ape with his new hairstyle.

ITV have cut the sound when there's some gentle swearage. Canutes.

It's clear from the way Mike shares the stage with Mark Sladen that he's not really that thrilled that he's been pegged as a solo artist, either. (It's worth pondering for just a moment that that could have been Chris Martin - thank god for small mercies, eh?)

Shirley Manson comes on after the adverts with a better red hair colour than ever - this is best British Live Act ("in association with Live Music Forum", which is that government quango thingy - so The Libertines were never going to get it, were they?)

"The winner is... my label mates, Muse." It's funny, Muse win something almost everywhere they go - and yet how often do you meet Muse fans?

Matt doesn't show up because he's "in the kingdom of Bhutan" - which sounds like a lame excuse you might hear if you were a PE teacher.

Green Day roll up to do American Idiot, which actually sounds a lot better live than it does on record. And Billie Joe Armstrong would look great in gay indie porn. It's not enough to win us over, but we'll send him a script in which he gets done up the ass by a Jarvis Cocker lookalike to have a squint at.

Because of the counting cock-up (or whatever the excuse was), there's ten songs on the Best Single shortlist and yet they still manage to choose Will Young as the winner. Minnie Driver - presumably because she's an actress - is given a bit of blurb to read about the charidee aspects of the evening - one important aspect of which is flattering listeners to UK Commercial Radio that their taste is worth awarding the prize on the basis of. Apparently Keane nearly won this, but there was a last minute surge which gave the award to Young. Keane, of course, also lost best selling album under the same sort of circumstances.

Evans says he's biased in favour of McFly for best pop and then - in some sort of godawful unintentional homage to Partridge - introduces Jodie Kidd ("she's an excellent horsewoman, and has a good golf handicap..."). This prize had been chosen by Sun Readers and O2 customers, who did give it to McFly. They don't ask Jodie Kidd why she's wearing a curtain from a 1960s sitting room; she doesn't ask them if their brothers know they've been throwing champagne over their suits.

Joss Stone comes on to remind people all over the country to nip out into the kitchen to see if their spaghetti bolognaise is ready yet. "I've got a right to be wrong" she sings, a right already exercised several times this evening by those deciding the awards.

Her song is inoffensive until she starts doing the Whitneys, managing to combine being bland and annoying in the same track. Even Chris Evans has snuck off to talk to McFly at the side of the stage.

After the adverts, Evans tries to get us excited because "Robbie has a surprise for you" - if it doesn't involve self-evisceration we're not going to be interested and then brings on someone nobody quite recognises to do "best international girl" - is he some sort of actor?

Yikes... Gwen Steffani has got the most awful 1970s frizz perm. Oh, and the nothing-more-tiresome mute japanese girls are with her - does she realise that it makes her look less like a cool globe-trotter, more like she's some sort of colonial overlord.

The next awarding person gets a hell of a build-up, so it's a bit of a shock when it turns out to be Natalie Imbruglia at the end of it. The hair advert girl who isn't Melanie Sykes, of course. Her job is to do best international newcomer. "Eminem can't be arsed to show up..." - indeed, he doesn't even bother to show his face for most of his half-hearted acceptance speech on tape.

Although since once he finishes it's time for the Best Song In The History of Everything, you kind of wish Em had mumbled even longer. Robbie does his strange semi-growly delivery of some of the lines of Angels and invites the audience to bellow along. No reaction shots show if Brian May joins in. The arrival of Joss Stone halfway through is no surprise, of course - it's only Joss Stone, not Beyonce or someone - but it does at least show that she is a better singer than Robbie. Which isn't saying much. God, we'd forgotten what an awful song Angels is - not made any better by the inclusion of some awful guitar solo styling noodling and Stone doing her Whitneys over the top of it. Make it stop, make it stop. Was it always this long, or have they added an extra verse to celebrate its new award as The Greatest Thing Humankind Has Done?

Naomi Harris has "just nailed the lead in the next Pirates of the Carribean" - let's hope she gets a part in the movie herself out of that, then - and sounds genuinely excited when The Streets wins the Best Solo prize. Pointedly, everyone else bar him comes on stage to pick it up.

Another musical interlude - Keane, doing Everyone's Changing - which after Angels, sounds like a bowl of Angel Delight with a flake in it. The keyboard player seems to have cut through an electric cable, but the rest of the band don't notice. To illustrate the song, the band all effect costume swaps, like the quick change artists of music hall.

Oh, alright, they don't - but Tom does chug about the stage looking slightly more animated than you might expect.

More commercials. Chris Evans has been an alright host, but there's nothing astonishing about this as a comeback. Not as astonishing, say, as Lisa Stansfield coming on to present the Annie Lennox memorial award. (Interestingly, the nominations here are the first mention of Amy Whinehouse all evening - surely she'd be the sort of artist you'd expect to be all over this sort of thing? Mind you, Cullum has been sidelined this year, too). Joss Stone picks up the prize for Best British Female, but at least it's an award for a category there's no argument against her being in.

"It's awesome" says Evans - no, it's not, it's Jamelia and Lemar doing Addicted To Love, which is so humdrum, we're not even going to waste our pre-prepared "Jimmy Melia and Limahl" joke.

Interesting to look into their eyes: Lemar doesn't actually seem to know they're just playing at being in love with each other. Jamelia doesn't look like she realises they're playing live.

And from somewhere they've scared up the only gospel choir in the world without any sense of rhythm at all - St Ceclia's Of The Terminally Unswinging, perhaps?

Jazzie B says "it's nice to be up here presenting the urban music award..." and does a little lecturette about how it's great that acts like "Dizzee Rascal and The Streets" are being recognised. He's obviously peaked inside the envelope, hasn't he?

Even Joss Stone looks surprised -she might have said "Oh, fuck off", but we're no lip readers. She's got more people to thank, though.

Evans describes Best International Group as "titanic" - rather a grim prediction. Bernard and Hooky are on to do the prize - sadly, Peter Hook isn't promoting Skin2 this evening. The chap doing the nomination voiceover (a mostly wasted Matt Lucas - Lauren Laverne is also doing faceless duties) has fun with "U 2, Maroon 5". Hooky is the most sober drunk ever. The Scissor Sisters win - although don't the BPI count them as a British act at all other times, on the grounds that they're signed here. Ana now looks like she's struggling to keep her dinner down. Oh, and now she's cackling.

"She is style, she is class, she is Gwen Steffani..." - she's doing a song. Oh, it's that single - quite why that's managed to crawl onto the Brits stage isn't clear - didn't the nation, as a person, do that pretending to yawn thing when it was released? And it sounds even more like bloody Laurie Anderson done live - click, clack, click, clack.

Damn, when Gwen chooses a poor song, she really goes to the far end of the counter and roots about in the leftover bin right at the bottom, doesn't she?

Old El Passo has a new spiced-up flavour in its range... we're either on the adverts or Peter Hook has come back and is shouting nonesense again.

It's time for the Best British Group - Chris Evans dedicates the prize to "the founding father of many British Bands, John Peel" - you can't help but think that it's a bit a grudging, tacked-on tribute in the context of a show that's going to give a lifetime achievement to Geldof. Especially since Sharon and Kelly Osbourne are presenting the statuette for this one. Good to see that Kelly's off the drugs, then.

Is that Justin Hawkins doing the standing and clapping thing?

Ooh, Siouxse has got some great trousers on. Although she doesn't look comfortable, and comes across a bit like a friend of Blanche when she starts crowing like a rooster. Medical opinion suggests she may have had a fruit drink or too before coming on stage.

Scissor Sisters are, it seems, the first ever international act to win three Brits in one night, which is cool. But better than that, they closed out U2. Ha! In your face, Bonio.

Pharrell and Snoop are up next, but unfortunately they're not going to wipe our minds from Chris Evan's introduction about dog shit.

"What's My Name?" asks Snoop, and his confusion is understandable, as the design of the set means the big screens behind him keep throwing up the word "SNOP!"

Clive Owen is doing best British album, although by now Chris Evans is overselling everything so he seems to be the world's most astonishing actor presenting the keys to the universe. Of course, only Keane look more surprised than Franz Ferdinand when Hopes and Fears wins. There's a very strange cut to commercials straight after Tom does a very humble little thank-you speech.

Trevor McDonald pops up promising that "Camilla will reveal exactly how Charles proposed..." - we're not sure, but we're guessing the words "will you let me put it there if I make you Queen, then?" might be involved?

The Bob award allows a little showreel of the sorts of people who made the Brits so awful for so many years - Lennox, Sting, Bono, Eno, Dave Stewart, Jonathon King (sorry, it was the other one, Townshend, wasn't it?). Jools Holland is given the difficult job of explaining exactly what Geldof's musical talent has done, but he sidesteps it instead. Geldof starts his speech by saying the local council is going to pull the plug if they don't all hurry up - which probably isn't true, but it at least keeps him to the point. He doesn't mention the Boomtown Rats. Nor does anyone else.

Evans makes some closing remarks about how its nice to be nominated - the sort of wishy-washy nothing you'd expect from Katie Boyle, not the supposed bad boy of British media.

I Don't Like Mondays is still a great song, but... it hardly constitutes a body of work, even although, splendidly, the violinist is smoking a fag during Bob's performance. And, apparently, Paul Whitehouse (doing an impression of Pete Doherty) is playing the piano. Bob looks mildly surprised when the pause on "the lesson today is... how to die" doesn't get a major reaction. It did the last time he got to sing in front of an audience, didn't it? Sadly, though, ending the show with Geldof more or less anticlimaxes across the message of how he's not really a musical heavyweight of his generation.

Pete Briquette is there to play bass - oddly, of course, the only one of the Rats who didn't complain at being left out of the Lifetime Achievement award.

Bob goes into Rat Trap - everyone holds their breath to see if he'll pay tribute to his ITV hosts and swap "CD:UK" into the lyric...

Nope, Julie's still trying to watch Top of the Pops.

The curious thing is, Bob seemed really certain that this award was rightfully for him rather than the Rats because he'd done loads of stuff after the band finished. And yet... the songs he did were both from the early period of the band. Nothing from vegetarians of love. It was like he'd lost confidence in his solo stuff.

So: This year's Brits, then. Almost totally devoid of anything approaching incident. Either the chaps at ITV had done a very BPI-friendly job in the edit suite or else - more likely - it was as dull being there as it was watching at home.