James Blake and London Grammar honoured at Ivor Novello awards

Young British musicians take home most-sought-after prizes as veterans Nick Cave and Nile Rodgers also collect Ivors

A new generation of songwriting talent was honoured at the Ivor Novello awards on Thursday as young Brits James Blake and London Grammar took home the most-coveted prizes.

Fresh from his Mercury Prize success, Blake, who is just 25, won Best Contemporary Song for his track Retrograde, taken from his second album Overgrown. Presented the award by British dance-music hero Jazzie B, the softly-spoken Blake said: "So until my second album, I didn't think I was a songwriter, but now I've got this thing, I guess I do. So thank you for inviting me into that special group. God … well I hope I'm back."

London Grammar were awarded Best Song Musically and Lyrically for their song Strong. The trio, who met at Nottingham University, held hands as they walked to the stage to collected their award, with lead singer Hannah Reid tightly embracing Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, who presented them with it.

"This is a really special moment for us," said Reid, adding: "I'd particularly like to thank [British electronic duo] Disclosure in what they've done in supporting up-and-coming talent."

The 59th Ivor Novellos reached out across generations as it celebrated the best in songwriting and composing. This year saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds pick up their first Ivor for Push the Sky Away, the 15th studio album by the Australian alternative outfit.

Cave and bandmate Warren Ellis made a rare appearance to collect the award, which was presented by former Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde. "Look, I don't really know what to say here," said Cave, sporting his usual all-black attire and slicked-back hair. "We don't go to many award ceremonies but this is the one to get. I want to thank my wife Susie, who dances through most of these songs."

Ellis added: "I want to dedicate this to past, present and future members of the Bad Seeds, a band that continues to raise the bar."

Tom Odell was presented with the award for Songwriter of the Year by Lily Allen, one of the judging panel, who admitted she had actually voted for Disclosure to win.

It was an emotional day for famed musician and producer Nile Rodgers, who was presented with the Special International award by Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. The crowd gave Rodgers, who has worked with stars ranging from David Bowie to Madonna, a standing ovation. Marr, who named his son after the Chic guitarist, paid tribute to "someone who has been a hero of mine since 1978.

"I hope you feel loved now because you are. You showed what a guitar player could be and what music could be, and always carried yourself with such dignity, grace and positivity," Marr said.

Tears streamed down Rodgers's face as he told the cheering crowd: "This is the best award ceremony I've ever been to. With all the wackiness that my career has been through, today has been amazing."

He added: "I just got in from Ibiza at 4am this morning, I haven't slept at all. I get a legends award and I'm laughing because I was like, you think I'm a legend? OK, I'll take it."

Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac was also honoured with the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award at the ceremony. The 70-year-old was presented with the tribute by 12-time Ivor winner Sir Tim Rice, who said: "She lives her songs, she has been through it all and she oozes class and style. Christine, whatever you're doing, don't stop."

McVie said she was honoured to receive the award and confirmed that she had rejoined Fleetwood Mac after 15 years and that the group were back in the studio recording a new album.

Passenger, otherwise known as folk-rock singer Mike Rosenberg, picked up the Most Performed Work award for Let Her Go, which he described as surreal. "For the past five years I've been busking on the streets, so I never dreamed I'd be invited to a place like this, never mind win the flipping thing," he said. "So thank you."

Best television soundtrack award went to BBC drama Ripper Street, while documentary The Epic of Everest beat the Oscar-award winning space drama Gravity to pick up best original film score. The Classical Musical award went to composer John McCabe, while the inspiration award went to Jerry Dammers, of ska band The Specials.

Jeff Beck was given the Ivor Novello accolade for Outstanding contribution to British music, presented to him by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.


Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The GuardianTramp

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