It felt like a step in the right direction for the return of live music as the Northern Ireland Music Prize made its return in person rather than exclusively through a web stream. While those wanting to stay home or simply couldn’t attend had the option to live stream the gig or listen in on Radio Ulster, the real pleasure was to be had within the hallowed walls of the Ulster Hall.
Those lucky attendees were treated to short but sweet performances from Dani Larkin, New Pagans, Trú, Amy Montgomery, Ryan McMullan, Sasha Samara & Ash. A diverse range of genres that left most tastes catered for. You’d be hard pressed to chose a standout but on this occasion New Pagans dominated that huge stage with a commanding performance and great visuals.
The night also featured a heartfelt tribute to the late Steve Strange and Mike Edgar picked up the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award for what has been a lifetime of work championing musicians and creatives from Northern Ireland.
The judging panel for the Album of the Year had an exceptionally difficult decision this year as the standard of the shortlist was exceptional. After being locked in a room for most of the day, the panel decided that Saint Sister‘s ‘Where I Should End‘ walking away with the big prize.
The other two main awards Single of the Year and the ATL Contender were decided based on a public vote and were picked up by Dea Matrona. Sadly neither Saint Sister or Dea Matrona were able to attend the event to collect their awards but it was heartening to have the three big prizes all going to female artists.
A big shout out to Charlotte Dryden and the team at the Oh Yeah Music centre for putting together a stellar event in a challenging environment. Here’s to another year of fantastic music so we can do it all again in November 2022.