Event Review and Winners List: The Age Music Victoria Awards - Billboard The Venue (20.11.13)

The relevance of music awards is a funny beast to tackle. Do The Drones and Paul Kelly really want or need another trophy? They must know they’re pretty good by now, surely.

No doubt it’s appreciated and this may be overtly cynical but awards ceremonies just seem to scream industry networking piss up. It was really cool to see smaller acts recognised like Bombay Royale (robbed for best live act by The Drones) and Hiatus Kaiyote who are continuing their world domination, funnily enough except for Australia. Another well-deserved nod went to the fantastic Theatre Royal in Castlemaine as best regional venue. So, yes award ceremonies are great for recognition of the little guys but also for another thing. Putting all this talent in one room allows for some killer collaborations which for this night meant the EG All Stars.

A set from Big Scary opened the acts for evening and gave a good reprieve from the hobnobbing chatter. Their melodies twisted through the air as they showcased songs off their latest Not Art. A twisting weaving web was created by the electronic beats intertwining with vocal, guitar and piano melodies. There is some seriously good song writing going on in Big Scary as they build uncomplicated melodic layer upon each other creating a sound of swirling intensity. Alas, Big Scary were not to take home any prizes losing out to Paul Kelly for Best Album.

After the next batch of awards, the EG All Stars took the stage featuring the RocKwiz band and the horn section from Saskwatch. As they steadily kept playing through the entire set (never stopping for a breather), amazing artist after amazing artist appeared for a single song. Kylie Auldist and Lance Ferguson performed ‘Stars and Whispers’ followed by Linda Bull giving her interpretation of Paul Kelly track ‘Sure Got Me’. One of the favourite moments of the night was a duet with Nkechi Anele and Henry Wagons but a close second has to go to Talei Wolfgramm taking on Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes’ ‘Love Letter’ with Anna Achia and Emma Peel backing her with some sinister go-go moves. Dan Sultan also made an appearance and Archie Roach finished the set with ‘Heal The People’.

Now that we’ve dealt with the meddling music part of the night let’s get those coveted awards. As well as Best Live Act, The Drones took out Best Band and Paul Kelly also picked up two awards with Best Male Artist and Best Album. Best Song went to Vance Joy for ‘Riptide’ which just keeps climbing charts all over the place. Adalita was crowned Best Female Artist and Stonefield picked up Best Regional Act. Meredith Music Festival was awarded Best Festival and The Corner was crowned Best Venue. However you want to look at it (industry conspiracy or just an example of how good they are) Michael Gudiniski’s Mushroom label were behind five of the nine artist awards.

Gudinski’s contribution to music in Australia was honoured by Music Victoria and The Age with an induction into their Hall of Fame. There was an interesting moment during the video presentation chronicling the Mushroom giant’s rise to glory where a photo popped up of him alongside apparent good mate Rupert Murdoch. Copping a few boos from the audience (we can only assume for Murdoch) the picture highlighted a similarity between the two media moguls who are both self-made mavericks of their respective industries who now basically own them in Australia. Criticism or compliment? It all depends on which side of the fence you’re standing. Nonetheless, Gudinski has given an innumerable number of artists the opportunity to spread their art which makes him very much well-deserving of the accolade.

The second inductee into the Hall of Fame was the priestess of soul Renee Geyer who absolutely floored the audience with her performance. Well, those that were listening anyway as industry hubbub seemed inexorable. Geyer comes from a past generation whose influence on music may be lost on the younger punters but Jesus fucking Christ! There is a goddamn good reason for her induction!

Her intense stare could penetrate the heart of a Hell’s Angels Sergeant-At-Arms with her voice rocking the core of your soul. Her rendition of ‘Difficult Woman’ written for her by Paul Kelly reverberated through your entire innards and with solos from Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford hitting your guts like a heavyweight punch. A very special moment occurred with Geyer calling on rising star Dan Sultan to join her for a tune. Sultan seemed to be feeling a little awkward on stage but his voice didn’t show a drop of it.

Geyer’s performance was a testimony to the fact that good artists just cannot be kept down. She provides a good lesson to the throwaway acts that seem to breed like bunnies with the proliferation of ‘reality’ shows; there is just no substitute for pure unadulterated talent and skill.

Award Winners

Best Song: Vance Joy - Riptide
The Age EG Best Album: Paul Kelly - Spring and Fall
Best Band: The Drones
Best Male Artist: Paul Kelly
Best Female Artist: Adalita
Best Emerging Artist: Hiatus Kaiyote
Best Live Act: The Drones
Best Festival: Meredith Music Festival
Best Venue: The Corner Hotel
Best Regional Act: Stonefield
Best Regional Venue: Theatre Royal