Damon Albarn says ‘I still really care what NME thinks of me’ on collecting Award For Innovation

Zane Lowe hands Blur frontman special gongat 02 Academy Brixton

Damon Albarn has collected the NME Award for Innovation at the NME Awards 2014 with Austin, Texas.

The awards are currently taking place at O2 Academy Brixton in London and are being hosted by BBC Radio 1 presenter and NME columnist Huw Stephens. Blur frontman Albarn collected his special award from BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe.

In Pictures – Rock stars hit the red carpet at the NME Awards 2014

Arriving on stage to accept the award, Albarn said: “NME terrified me when I was younger. They were the second people, after Sounds, to write about Blur. It meant so much to me when that happened. Most of you in this room don’t know that there was a world before the internet. There was NME and there was Top Of The Pops. That was it. If I’m honest I still really care what NME thinks of me. Thank you all, I really appreciate this, cheers.”

Introducing Albarn, Zane Lowe said: “The recipient of this award asked me to keep things brief but that is impossible. As a member of Blur, he has been involved in one of the most twisted back catalogues in pop music history. As a member of Gorillaz he captured people’s attention. His work with Africa Express is remarkable. He’s taken people like Brian Eno and Jamie T out to Africa and convinced others to invest, not just donate. But beyond all that it’s the songs. A timeless, weird collection of songs that have captured people all over the world.”

Earlier in the evening Arctic Monkeys picked up the first award of the night at the NME Awards 2014 with Austin, Texas collecting the prize for Best Live Band supported by Gig Buddy. The Sheffield band beat off competition from Haim, Biffy Clyro, Queens of the Stone Age, Palma Violets and Savages and collected their award from Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.

Performances still to come tonight include those from Best New Band winners Drenge and Blondie, who have been named this year’s Godlike Genius. The iconic band will collect the award in person and perform at the end of the show. In addition, Belle & Sebastian will receive the Teenage Cancer Trust Outstanding Contribution To Music Award and will also perform live.

The NME Awards 2014 with Austin, Texas are being streamed live for the first time in its history this evening.Watch all the action from 8PM at www.nme.com/awards.