Kasabian, Friendly Fires, Florence And The Machine kick off Barclaycard Mercury Prize

Bands play and offer their thoughts at 2009 London ceremony

Kasabian, Friendly Fires, Florence And The Machine and Bat For Lashes were among the acts who got the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2009 ceremony off to a start tonight (September 8).

All the nominated acts played a song each at the Grosvenor House Hotel in the UK capital apart from Glasvegas, whose singer James Allan was absent, ill. Click on the video below for band members Rab Allan and Paul Donoghue’s explanation for him being away.

Kasabian opened up the event at around 7pm (BST), playing recent single ’Fire’. Singer Tom Meighan was sporting newly-shorn hair, and thanked the audience following the band’s performance.

“It’s not often I’m lost for words,” he said. “Thank you for nominating us for the Mercury Prize, God bless, love you all.”

Friendly Fires were up next, playing their hit ’Jump In The Pool’. Drummer Jack Savidge was present for the show – earlier in the day he had discharged himself from hospital after suffering from a virus to attend the ceremony.

“Thank you, this is a beautiful award to be at,” guitarist Ed Gibson said, accepting the band’s nomination gong. “We’re very glad Jack could make it out of hospital to be here today.”

Earlier in the day Gibson and frontman Ed MacFarlane had spoken about how confident they were of winning. “What’s a third of 100?” MacFarlane had asked NME.COM. “33 and a third recurring,” Gibson then said, before MacFarlane added: “So times two means 66 percent confident about winning. If Jack was here [he joined the party late from hospital], 99 percent.”

Up next, Lisa Hannigan took to the stage to play ’Lille’, with Florence And The Machine playing ’Dog Days Are Over’ afterwards. “This is amazing, thank you so much,” singer Florence Welch said timidly straight after the performance, before Led Bib played ’Yes, Again’.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Welch had told NME.COM earlier, referring to her band being bookies’ favourites to win the prize. “It doesn’t make any sense, because it’s not like a public vote – you can’t figure out anything like that. I’d put my money on The Horrors.”

Sweet Billy Pilgrim were up next with their song ’Kalypso’.

Glasvegas did not play live, but guitarist Rab Allan gave a short speech after a video of their song ’Geraldine’ was played. “First of all sorry James can’t be with us, he’s ill,” he said. “I’d just like to thank anyone who’s helped us, fought for us… have a great night and good luck to everybody else.”

Speech Debelle followed by playing ’The Key’, with Bat For Lashes – here with their second nomination, for new album ’Two Suns’ – following with ’Moon & Moon’.

“Thank you, I’m really honoured,” frontwoman Natasha Khan said, accepting her nomination award. “I’m looking forward to the free champagne.”

Up next La Roux performed her former UK Number Two single ’In For The Kill’. “I don’t really know what to say,” frontwoman Elly Jackson exclaimed, accepting her nomination trophy. “Good luck to everyone.”

The Invisible followed by playing ’London Girl’, beforeThe Horrors took to the stage for the last live performance of the evening before the winner is announced, airing their single ’Who Can Say’.

“Thank you very much and goodnight,” frontman Faris Badwan said, accepting the nomination.

Photo Gallery: Speech Debelle’s night of triumph at the Mercury

Blog – What do you think fo the Mercury result?

Download a free Speech Debelle track

Mercury video – watch live performances and red-carpet interviews from the Mercury ceremony