Alex Turner’s Brits acceptance speech was everything that rock’n’roll is meant to be: unpredictable, dumb, funny, exciting and attention-grabbing. But it was so much more than that. It was a call to arms.
As Turner stood at the lectern in the centre of the O2 and delivered his sermon in front of a worldwide audience of millions, declaring that rock’n’roll “will never die. And there’s nothing that you can do about it,” he drew a line in the sand right there and then, asking every single person watching which side of it they were standing.
“That rock’n’roll, eh? That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, sink back into the swamp… but it’s always waiting there, just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge.”
Some people thought he was disrespectful. Some people thought he must be pissed or high. Some people thought he sounded like a silly bellend, while some thought that his ego had looped twice round the galaxy before rocketing up his own arse. Those people are stood on the other side of the line.
On this side of the line stand the rest of us, inspired by the words of a man who understands that rock’n’roll isn’t about an antiquated idea of “guitar music”, or about any level of genre elitism, but spirit and ethos, excitement and unpredictability; The traits that British music was always renowned for.
For the frontman of the UK’s biggest band, upon collecting the biggest prize in British mainstream music, to end the night looking like an outsider is madness, brilliance and poetic irony all in one. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. And for those of us standing on this side of the line, neither would we. The challenge has been set by Alex Turner, and now it’s up to us to act upon it.
“That rock’n’roll, eh?”