Radiohead, ‘Puppets, Elbow kick off Mercury Prize

Alex Turner, Colin Greenwood speak to NME.COM ahead of announcement

The Last Shadow Puppets opened the Nationwide Mercury Prize ceremony this evening (September 9) in London with an orchestral performance of their title song ‘The Age Of The Understatement’.

Arctic MonkeysAlex Turner and The RascalsMiles Kane were joined by producer James Ford on drums and eleven string and horn players as they opened the bash with the title track of their debut at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

Accepting the nomination trophy after their performance, Turner jokingly told the crowd: “It’s an honour to be nominated. This time last year we’d just finished this album, so we never thought we’d be here – we weren’t in any danger though!”

Speaking to NME.COM earlier in the evening, Kane explained: “We’re glad that we’re playing first, then we can sit back and enjoy it.”

“Each stage of this [band] has been like a new level. We made it, then it was ‘I can’t believe we’re playing live’, and now this, the next one of those surprises, we’re excited. It’s been great the last few months,” added Turner.

Joking about his third nomination in as many years – both Arctic Monkeys albums were nominated – Turner laughed “it’s an inside job”, while Kane added it was “all down to the backhanders I’ve been giving them.

Both said that they wanted Elbow to win, while Turner revealed the pair have “three possible scenarios for tonight. If you win go to one place, if we lose another, and if we lose and someone we don’t want to win wins, we’ll go home!”

Radiohead who are nominated for their album ‘In Rainbows’, were represented by Colin Greenwood and Ed O’Brien at the ceremony.

Speaking to NME.COM, bassist Colin Greenwood said: “This is our fourth nomination, I don’t think we’ll win but it’s just nice to be included with some brilliant other people like Rachel Unthank and Laura Marling.

“I really like Burial‘s stuff, it’s all good. If it was up to me it would be out of three or four people, if that don’t sound weasely. That’s a good thing about the prize, it’s all good.”

After The Last Shadow Puppets‘ performance, Neon Neon, nominated for their album ‘Stainless Style’, performed a mash-up of their tracks ‘I Told Her On Alderaan’ and ‘Trick For Treat’.

The duo, Super Furry AnimalsGruff Rhys and producer Boom Bip, were joined by Cate Le Bon and Har Mar Superstar, who performed an impressive handstand during their performance.

Folk quartet Rachel Unthank And The Winterset received loud applause from the crowd after performing an ethereal version of the traditional folk song ‘Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk’, taken from their nominated second album ‘The Bairns’.

British Sea Power then decked out their amps in flags and performed ‘No Lucifer’, from their ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ album, joined by their customary violinist, cornet player and the London Bulgarian Choir.

Accepting their award, the band left an apple on the plinth, which led host Jools Holland to jokingly accuse them of bribing the judges.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, nominated for their collaboration ‘Raising Sand’, turned up to collect their award but did not perform. However, accepting the nomination, the Led Zeppelin frontman said: “Working with Alison has given me such heart and so much joy – thank you Alison!”

Estelle performed a spirited version of ‘Pretty Please’, from her release ‘Shine’, while Adele took the stage to play an acoustic version of ’19’‘s ‘Crazy For You’, to rapt silence from the crowd throughout.

Laura Marling later performed ‘Night Terrors’, taken from her nominated debut ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, with her band.

Elbow closed the first section of the ceremony with the track ‘The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver’ from their fourth album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’.

Dubstep artist and Mercury favourite Burial, famous for his desire for anonymity, was not in attendance tonight.

Check back to NME.COM at 10.30pm (BST) for the results of the Mercury Music Prize.

Meanwhile see NME.COM’s who’s who guide to this year’s Nationwide Mercury Prize nominees online now, and check out NME.COM’s 25 things you didn’t know about the Nationwide Mercury Prize picture gallery, then check back at around 10:30pm (BST) to find out who’s taken home the prize.