Review: Lorde owns the Aria Awards

By Hayden Donnell

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Lorde performs during the 27th Annual ARIA Awards in Sydney. Photo / Getty
Lorde performs during the 27th Annual ARIA Awards in Sydney. Photo / Getty

For a few minutes, the biggest night in Australian music belonged to Lorde.

All the local performers at the Aria Awards had been good. A triumphant Tame Impala delivered a washed out version of their hit Feels Like I Only Go Backwards. Vance Joy had the crowd singing and clapping along to a soft-spoken solo take on his hit Rip Tide. Jessica Mauboy was all swagger. Flume and Isabella Manfredi roped in members of the Sydney Symphonic Orchestra for The Greatest View.

But their show was momentarily stolen by a teenager from Devonport singing a slightly unhinged version of a song about sticking together. Lorde managed to keep her voice on pitch and unwavering as she jabbed her hands maniacally through a commanding rendition of Team.

It was a reminder of how she is managing to outpace every other artist at the awards - by mixing uncommon charisma with a lyricism and melodic maturity that belies her 17 years of age.

The Aria Awards ceremony had endured some shaky moments until then. There was an unjustifiable outlay of 9/11 themed jokes. "This is just like the Pentagon but hopefully with less planes flying into it," said backstage host Jason 'Jabba' Davis, describing something.

Oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros ran a fine line between offensive and funny while presenting the award for best heavy metal album, saying he was honoured to be the "first Arab to be presenting an award" before riffing on terrorism ("Osama's Cave and the Bad Seeds") and the Taliban ("I'm trying to put the Aria in sharia").

Pop star Samantha Jade won best video over Vance Joy, proving major awards shouldn't be decided by YouTube votes.

But those were exceptions in an evening filled with genuinely entertaining moments. Nick Cave offered an impressively awkward taped acceptance speech for his Independent Album of the Year win, standing in front of the camera for endless seconds before being prodded by a bemused Bad Seeds member into promising: "We'll be back soon, mate."

Cave didn't record a video for his win in the adult contemporary category.

Air Supply were all humility and grace as they were inducted into the Aria hall of fame. Seventies legend Russell Morris seemed genuinely surprised to receive the Aria for Best Blues or Roots Album for his comeback record Sharkshead.

"I now know how Moses felt after he came out of the wilderness after 40 years," he said.

It was a curse-breaking night for the Australian Idol alumni. Mauboy won Best Female Artist, while Guy Sebastian won his first Aria after 10 years of trying, taking Best Pop Release for Armageddon. Mysteriously, he wasn't in the room when the award was announced. He asked organisers to redo the big reveal, eventually presenting an emotional and, by his own admission, lengthy speech. "Sucked in, but I've waited a long time for this," he said.

But the true stars of the awards were the one-two punch of Tame Impala and Flume. The acts justifiably dominated, with the Impalas taking out the Best Album and Best Rock Album categories and Flume winning Best Male Artist and Best Dance Album. They were the best Aussie performers on the night, just as they have been over the whole of 2013. Both were humble given their achievements, with Flume (real name Harley Streten) offering that he is the first winner of the best male artist award who can't actually sing.

"Hopefully it opens the floodgates for producers around Oz and people with bad voices in general," he said.

Soon after, Lorde stood and swept the crowd away with one of the best voices in pop. It was a sign that, though Australian music is in good shape, New Zealand isn't doing so bad right now either.

ARIA WINNERS

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Tame Impala - Lonerism
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST - RELEASE: Flume - Flume
BEST MALE ARTIST: Flume - Flume
BEST FEMALE ARTIST: Jessica Mauboy - To The End Of The Earth
BEST GROUP: Tame Impala - Lonerism
BEST INDEPENDENT RELEASE: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
BEST ADULT CONTEMPORARY ALBUM: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
BEST BLUES AND ROOTS ALBUM: Russell Morris - Sharkmouth
BEST CHILDREN'S ALBUM: Justine Clarke - A Little Day Out with Justine Clarke
BEST COMEDY RELEASE: Tom & Alex - The Bits We're Least Ashamed Of
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM: Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - Wreck and Ruin
BEST DANCE RELEASE: Flume - Flume
BEST POP RELEASE: Guy Sebastian - Armageddon
BEST ROCK ALBUM: Tame Impala - Lonerism
BEST HARD ROCK/HEAVY METAL ALBUM: Karnivool - Asymmetry
BEST URBAN ALBUM: Illy - Bring it Back

2013 ARIA AWARD PUBLIC VOTED NOMINEES

SONG OF THE YEAR: Matt Corby - Resolution
BEST INTERNATIONAL ARTIST: One Direction - Take Me Home
BEST AUSTRALIAN LIVE ACT: Guy Sebastian - Get Along Tour: Mar - Jun 2013
BEST VIDEO: Samantha Jade - Firestarter
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Air Supply

- nzherald.co.nz

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