Friday, April 27, 2007

An evening at the Brit awards in London

Republican Politics, American Style
Published April 12th 2007 in Metro Eireann
By Charles Laffiteau

On Valentines Day I had the opportunity to travel to London for the Brit Awards. I will now take some time now to describe my experiences at the night’s events and share my impressions about them with you.
As to why I was attending the Brit Awards, I was fortunate enough to win an all expense paid VIP package which included tickets to the Brits and the pre and post parties, round trip airline tickets, accommodations at a four star hotel in Kensington and a chauffer for my entire stay in London. Usually when I go to London, I go to an ATM at Heathrow, get £50-100 and buy a 3 day off-peak tube and bus pass for £19 so I can get around the city. To be chauffeured everywhere in London was quite a treat all by itself, not to mention the feeling that I was experiencing what it must be like to “live like a rock star”.
Since tickets for the Brits are not sold to the public, the only way to attend the Awards show is to be or know someone in the music industry, or buy them at exorbitant prices from ticket brokers. I was indeed lucky to be able to attend at all, much less to experience the rock star treatment as well.
I was going to wear an orange “Guantanamo Bay” jumpsuit, but decided this would prove too embarrassing to those who were accompanying me to the Awards show. Instead, I opted for a tuxedo, white tuxedo shirt and black bow tie, accented with my special “autographed by musicians I have met” cream coloured vest with a matching western Stetson hat and black western boots with silver toe and heel guards. Such an outfit would not be unusual at the Country Music Awards in the United States, but it attracted a lot of attention at the Brits.
ITV was filming me at the pre-party and after the show, women were coming up to me and posing for pictures, giving me their phone numbers and some even asked to take pictures of my boots. One would think the British had never seen anyone dressed this way before by the reactions I experienced throughout the evening. I must say I had a whale of a night being the centre of attention even in the presence of numerous well known rock stars and other luminaries.
The Awards show itself was also quite a memorable experience. It was being broadcast live on ITV for the first time in 16 years, so there were breaks throughout for commercials, which the audience used to refuel and refresh themselves without missing any performers. For those of you who weren’t able to watch the show, I will recap the performances I saw..
The Scissor Sisters opened with their nominated song and a very theatrical performance that simulated them floating around the stage. Muse received the first award of the evening which was then followed by a great performance by Snow Patrol of their nominated song. Awards were then given to the Fratellies, who didn’t seem to want to leave the stage, and to Orson.
Amy Winehouse then came on and performed one of the songs from her “Back to Black” nominated album, but she appeared to be a bit off the mark and under the influence of the “Jack and Coke” she had demanded be available for her party of 20 guests. Amy is such a talented performer, but I’m afraid she is going to end up in rehab like Robbie Williams or killing herself, hopefully the former rather than the latter.
Awards were then presented to James Morrison and Justin Timberlake (the only musician not present to receive his award) and this was followed by a smashing performance by the Killers of a cut from their “Sam’s Town” release. Amy Winehouse received an award and was noticeably “under the influence” during the course of her brief acceptance speech.
Then Nelly Furtado got the nod as best International female artist in a surprise win over Pink based on the crowd reaction. This was followed by crowd pleasing performance of “Patience” by former boy band Take That, who later collected an award for the same song as best British single of the year.
My favs, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, performed just before the Killers picked up an International award for “Sam’s Town” and this was followed by an awesome performance by Colleen Bailey Rae of her nominated song and then the best British single award was presented to Take That.
Artic Monkeys then picked up the best British album award, prior to the lifetime achievement award being given to Oasis as the nights final award presentation. Oasis then closed the show with a live mini-concert of four songs, two new and two old hits, lasting about 25 minutes and running well past the end of the live TV broadcast.
In my opinion, the Brits are a much livelier and entertaining music awards show than their American counterpart, the Grammy’s, which gave nominations and awards to many of the same artists. The Grammy’s come off as a much more tedious and heavily scripted show and the performers and presenters don’t appear to have as much fun as they do at the Brits.
Russell Brand started off slowly as the MC with some of his scripted remarks falling flat at the beginning of the show. But he got better as the evening wore on and he began to ad-lib more and depart from the script in his interactions with the various awards presenters. Russell is at his best in this type of format (when he is un-scripted and running at the mouth) and he was in top form by the end of the evening.
After rubbing elbows with the musical artists present for the awards show, my entourage departed Earls Court for some late night dancing and music at the Elks Club on Broadway and Fulham, before being chauffeured back to our hotel in Kensington. We finished our evening at the hotel bar mixing and mingling with other Brit Awards guests until around 4am in the morning.
Few of us made it to breakfast the next morning but, thanks to our able chauffer, we all made it to the airport in time for our return flight to Dublin that afternoon. All in all, my trip to the Brit Awards was an experience I will never forget or regret. Until next week, what can I say but that the Brits are a great music awards show and “Rock On”. I hope I will be able to attend again someday!

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