NME has changed almost beyond recognition in recent times, but one constant has been its ability to throw a party - and a mighty fine one at that. Last night‘s bash was no exception, boosted by a healthy dose of star power (Liam Gallagher, Muse and Naomi Campbell, of all people, to name but three), which brought a renewed sense of cultural relevance to the event.
As ever, some of the winners were head-scratchers but the majority of victors - Boy Better Know to Shirley Manson - were fully deserving. Here are Music Week’s takeaways from a fiery and often thrilling night at O2 Academy Brixton.
Shirley Manson’s speech
The Garbage legend used her NME Icon Award speech as a wake-up call to the industry, demanding change for women in music. “Any decent person is shocked by the statistics surrounding not only the harassment that women face, not only the violence that we face, but the lack of representation that we enjoy in an industry,” she said. “The fact that women at my level enjoy under 7% representation is unacceptable. I call upon any musician in this room to stand up and really call out festivals for not representing women, in particular women of colour, our black sisters. We need to make a change. It’s vital.”
Who run the world?
Female artists were honoured in a host of categories at last night’s event. As well as Manson, other winners included Ariana Grande (Music Moment of The Year for One Love Manchester), Charli XCX for Boys (Best Track), Haim (Best International Band), Lorde (Best International Solo Artist), Stefflon Don (Best New Artist), The Big Moon (Best Music Video), Lady Gaga (Best Music Film) and Music Week coverstars Pale Waves (Under The Radar Award).
Remembering their roots
Picking up the prize for Best Live Artist, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno took the opportunity to big up small venues, namechecking the likes of The Shed in Leicester and The Leadmill in Sheffield for being crucial to his band’s development. “All those venues we have played over the years made us what we are,” he said. “Keep fucking live venues alive.”
Farewell to a legend
Mark E Smith’s former wife and Fall bandmate Brix Smith Start paid an impassioned tribute to the music great, three weeks on from his death. “Mark told me he believed there were only seven original people in the world and that everyone else was a slate of one of them,” she said. “Mark was absolutely one of the seven. Mark inspired all of us in The Fall to let go of preconceived notions of what a rock musician was. He just was one - nothing was contrived and nothing was insincere.” Footage was then played of Smith’s Godlike Genius acceptance speech from 1998.
BBK take over
With Stormzy nowhere to be seen, it was left to Boy Better Know to fly the flag for grime, collecting the Innovation Award. Skepta (above) kicked off the show with his guest spot on Stefflon Don’s Ding-A-Ling, and later re-emerged to present the Godlike Genius Award to...
The former Oasis frontman’s renaissance has been a godsend to the NME, setting him up as an obvious recipient of their top award. Gallagher, who starred on Music Week's cover last year, gave shout outs to his mum Peggy, parka monkeys and, in a nod to his estranged brother, his “army of songwriters past and present” before taking to the stage to close the show. His blistering six-song set fused Oasis classics (Rock’N’Roll Star/Morning Glory/Cigarettes & Alcohol with newer solo material (Greedy Soul/Wall Of Glass/You Better Run) to mark his coronation. “As you fucking were.”