Alt-J win it, then, for their debut album An Awesome Wave. They were the favourites. Amazingly, though, no newspapers (including us) managed to review Alt-J's album when it came out, it really did creep in under the radar.

Luckily our New Band Of The Day man Paul Lester was available to write up his assessment back in May:

The music is rich and quirky enough to match the imagistic literacy of the lyrics, from the majestic, cinematic sweep of Intro onwards.

Lester went on to say

Even if you remain indifferent about the album, as we do, you can easily see why people are going to like it and spend time seeking out the meanings and motives behind the songs.

Maybe the band's oblique lyrics swayed the judges? We will never know, of course, as they like to keep their discussions hush hush. Much like the atmosphere in this room right now, if I'm being honest. A polite acceptance by the lads was the order of the day, rather than a gak-fuelled rant a la Klaxons.

Personally, I'm not sure Alt-J's An Awesome Wave is really the time capsule sound of British music in 2012 but, you know, it has its moments I guess. And with that thrillingly passionate statement I must sign off for another year. Thanks so much for reading. And thank the lord above I had no power supply so there was something to talk about. See you (inevitably) next year!


The winner of the 2012 Mercury prize is ...


Ok here we go ...

Lauren is back. And we're now mere minutes away from finding out the winner. We're just running back through the nominees. God, this is more exciting than Obama/Romney.

Where is this 'hotted up action' you mentioned? asks @Clemsworld, referring to my earlier promise. Well, the meal is still going on. And the only drama happening previously to this point was my laptop battery almost dying. And that's now riding high on 57% battery. So I've let everyone down here. BUT! We are just 15 minutes away from finding out the winner of the 2012 Mercury Prize! WHOOP! WHOOP!


Ok, we're back. Here's an email from Irene Wilson during the break

Please please please can I put in a polite request for Roller Trio to be the dark horse and win the whole bloomin' thing. Just listen to their album and open your ears and minds everyone. They're fantastic, no wonder their tour is selling out fast. They should win, without a doubt and No, I'm not their Mum.

When even people who didn't give birth to them are converts, you know it's a band worth listening to. I would like to see Roller Trio win on the grounds that it was the best performance of the night. And it would please @robjam down in comment land too, who is rather annoyed at my lack of jazz knowledge.

You clearly know nothing about jazz in general, or Roller Trio in particular. It's a good album - not quite a great album - but it could only have been made in the last 2 or 3 years (you would know this if you knew anything at all about contemporary jazz). It belongs to a movement which features bands such as TrioVD & Troyka which is absolutely contemporary, growing out of the work of bands like Polar Bear & Acoustic Ladyland from 6 or 7 years ago, & further propelled by outfits such as Led Bib & Get the Blessing from 3 or 4 years ago.

Fair enough. Although I would say if you tuned into my Mercury live blog to get an in-depth analysis of current trends in the world of Yorkshire jazz improvisation then you were always going to leave disappointed.

Right, there's now a two hour break while everyone downstairs eats the delicious 46-course meal you will have read about below. There are more waiting staff here than actual punters.

This is normally the time I have some kind of existential crisis but I feel that I dealt with that in some depth between 6.30pm and 8.17pm so will head down to the basement to find a plug socket (34%) and join you back up here, fully charged and raring to go, when the action hots up around 9.30pm - the announcement is apparently due around 10pm!

Now it really is The Maccabees who are playing the first single off Given To The Wild, Pelican. Most of their third album is given over to a dreamy, ambient indie sound but Pelican is a stop-start affair with a jolt of life in it.

Lauren Laverne is back onstage. "And next up we have a band who bristle with all the energy and innovation that's made the Leeds jazz improv scene so thrilling."

It's time for The Maccabees!

Ho, ho. It is of course chaotic skronk jazzers Roller Trio! This is one of those years where the jazz nomination sounds a million times more forward-thinking than almost anything else on the list – they create a thrilling cacohony of coiled sax and tightly wound rhythms.


Jessie Ware, dressed all in black, is performing the epic Wildest Moments from her stylish and moving album, Devotion. Her voice fills the Roundhouse, soothing our troubles and transporting the audience away from the difficulties we face each day. Then she stops and I suddenly remember: 44% battery

An email from Gavin Knight, unhappy with my Hawley criticism:

Doesn't Richard Hawley deserve credit for his state-of-the-nation album/ loyalty to his working class roots in Sheffield/ son of steelworker who never left. Surely that is more unfashionably commendable that art students writing about films they like?

Point taken, Gavin. But I genuinely LOVE Hawley – some incredibly moving albums and a hilarious character in person too. I just don't want to hear that swoony croon (not to mention his way with a vintage melody) drowned out with droney psychedelic guitar. Is that too much to ask for?

Well well well, maybe Field Music could win this. Just had an email from Alex at Ladbrokes ...

We've seen (and will continue to see, I think) an incredible gamble on Field Music. They were 16/1 in the morning and are now into 7/2. Their odds of winning are collapsing with every passing minute.

Despite this, we will endeavour to keep betting open for as long as possible until the announcement is made. If the gamble continues they could overhaul long term favourites Alt-J which would have been unheard of just a few hours ago.

Was about to apologise to all the readers in the comment section for lack of musical discussion thus far. But a quick glance reveals you're discussing the following topics

  • Whether Damon Albarn makes chocolates
  • What the hell is a Tonka bean?
  • What a cool name Lexy Topping is

Yes, have no doubt, this year's Mercury has really got everyone talking about the music.

Props to @Lushattic and @RalfyJ, then, for getting things back on topic with their enthusiasm for Field Music. I think they've got as good a chance as any this year, although my personal preference is Jessie Ware (and my tip would be that Plan B will nick this).


Sam Lee is onstage, this year's folkie nomination for Ground Of Its Own. He is doing what can only be described as some preposterously funky sex dancing. And he's doing it to the sound of a gypsy folk band. Maybe this isn't even happening and I passed out with stress around 7.12pm, the startling vision in front of me being nothing but sweet hallucination. If so, could I please hallucinate something a bit more pulse-racing than Michael Kiwanuka?


I wasn't blown away by Field Music's fourth album Plumb – a wonky indie record that references everything from the Beatles, XTC and Steely Dan – but it would still be nice to see a band with a determined pop vision who've been operating just below the radar for so long to get some serious mainstream recognition. Here's a video from the time they came to the Guardian for a live session ...


There is actually some music happening here. Richard Hawley showcased his heavier, psychedelic direction from seventh solo album Standing At The Sky's Edge (I've moaned on enough about preferring his croonier stuff so I won't repeat it in depth here). And Lianne La Havas also did a song. And if "did a song" wasn't the kind of insightful journalism you were expecting here then, well, I apologise. But my internet keeps disappearing and I am close to some kind of terrifying mental collapse here. Let's hope Field Music can steer me back from the brink ...

(ps: 67%)


"After years of crappy slop in the Grosvenor this actually sounds... Well.... Quite appetising!"


We are getting massively off-topic here, aren't we? You're not reading this to know about the menu. You're here to find out about my battery level. AND IT'S DOWN TO 73%!! The end is nigh!



And it's good news for those of you who like their spinach puree to come from Norwich and the surrounding areas ...

Smoked haddock and crushed désirée potato croquette scented with tarragon, Norfolk spinach puree, quail egg, sauce choron

Trio of lamb - mint pesto braised lamb shoulder, lamb cutlet and lamb tortellni, wilted spinach and pea velouté

Chocolate and salted caramel délice, toffee sauce, tonka bean ice cream

Musetti coffee and Damian Allsop chocolates


Glas to nice Alt J have dressed for the occasion. #mercuryprize…

— Alexandra Topping (@LexyTopping) November 1, 2012

Back in the room with a besuited Alt-J for their witchy, folk-step (and I promised I would never, ever use the phrase folk-step) number Tessellate. Alt-J's vaguely experimental indie has had critics comparing them to Radiohead. It also makes them favourites for tonight. But is An Awesome Wave really the sound of British music in 2012? Does it sum up the state of the nation? Actually, it could do – I've not idea what he's singing about half the bloody time.


Elsewhere, Rebecca Nicholson has been on the red carpet and can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that "Jessie Ware smells the best, she smells great."

Bad news to all of you who put their money on Django Django smelling the best this year.

Quick update from our reporter Lexy Topping, who is not in the cheap seats ...

Don't know what that looked like but in here the Plan B performance was nerve-jangling. Maybe because he was throwing himself around the stage, maybe because he was accompanied by a band wearing balaclavas and hoods, maybe because it was so damn loud or maybe cos he was ripping it up in front of the suits of the music industry... But it was quite something.

Earlier on we ran a poll to see who you thought should win the Mercury Prize. Thousands of you voted and the winners were ... Alt-J!

So there you go. Can we all go home and celebrate their victory now? Oh, no? They ended up with 24% of the vote, closely followed by Jessie Ware (15%) and Django Django (13%).

This exciting news was brought to you over a soundtrack of Ben Howard playing live. Not sure what song, was too busy looking at my battery and going "89%?!? Already?!?" We're NEVER going to make it to the announcement are we?

While I was running around in a panic, Plan B opened things up with Ill Manors, which sounded even more visceral and thrilling than my search for an electrical outlet. And now Django Django are doing their shaky indie thing to Storm. The good thing about being at the Roundhouse is that the live music is actually loud and punchy, which you could never really say about Grosvenor House in Mayfair.

Anyways, here's a little video of Django Django invading Guardian HQ for a live session ...


Ok we're off and Lauren Laverne is talking about the "visceral thrill" of being here. I know what she means. I've got barely any WiFi and no power supply making this a rather seat-of-your-pants affair. Currently battery is at 97%. Hey, at least I'm bringing the drama, right? 

Hello and welcome to the Mercury prize 2012! Regular readers – fans, if you must – of what are routinely described as “Tim Jonze’s era-defining Mercury live blogs” (copyright: absolutely nobody, ever) may recall a sentence from last year’s masterpiece. Laced with pathos and poignant beyond mere words, I turned to you dear reader and said: “Oh Lord, please don't let me be live blogging this thing again next year.”

And yet the Lord was clearly one of the few people not reading, so here I am once more, gearing up for my fourth Mercury Music Awards live blog. I guess when you’re in demand, you’re in demand. Especially when no other fool will volunteer for it.

I can’t lie, readers, this year’s Mercury nominees list is not a vintage one. There are no obvious landmark records a la the xx’s debut, or PJ Harvey’s masterpiece Let England Shake. Instead we have a lot of wispy washy indie music – hot favourites Alt-J, The Maccabees – and a generous serving of retro folk, soul and psychedelia (Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, Lianne La Havas, Richard Hawley). Only Plan B and Jessie Ware stand out as having made music that sounds like it could possibly have been recorded after the Watergate scandal, so let’s hope they get rewarded for this. After all, the Mercury Prize is all about invention, no?

We’re at the Roundhouse this year, and will be watching it while hunched over a laptop from a slightly different balcony (we're all about variety). We're led to believe that it all kicks off around 7pm. Do let me know your tips, favourites and who the judges have mercilessly overlooked. You can email me on or tweet me @timjonze. And I’ll probably ignore you all because I'm too busy trying to locate a WiFi signal somewhere on a wobbly stool at the back of the venue.

Anyway, the nominees are as follows (in completely random cut'n'paste order, because we are that impartial) ...

  • LIanne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough
  • Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
  • Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
  • The Maccabees – Given To The Wild
  • Richard Hawley – Standing At The Sky’s Edge
  • Roller Trio – Roller Trio
  • Django Django – Django Django
  • Plan B - Ill Manors
  • Jessie Ware - Devotion
  • Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
  • Field Music – Plumb
  • Sam Lee – Ground Of It’s Own

And here's a fun video – dripping with infectious enthusiasm, I'm sure you'll agree – of me, Rebecca Nicholson and Alexis Petridis discussing the nominees. Just to get you in the Mercury mood, like ...



Tim Jonze

The GuardianTramp

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