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James Blake bags the Mercury Prize 2013 for Overgrown

31st October 2013

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James Blake became the surprise winner of the 2013 Mercury Prize last night at Camden’s Roundhouse.

James BlakeDespite host Lauren Laverne calling him ‘James Blunt’ before his awards show performance, the 25-year-old Londoner beat competition from the likes of David Bowie, Arctic Monkeys, Laura Marling and Disclosure to win the prize.

After missing out on the prize in 2011 Blake was victorious for his latest release Overgrown, which has gained critical success for its introspective downbeat ambient tracks and Blake’s transcendent, soulful vocals.

The judges described it as "Late night music for the digital age. An inventive, poignant and poetic record of great beauty.”

The self-produced second album also features contributions from Brian Eno and RZA from Wu-Tang Clan.

One of the least commercial records on the shortlist and compared to the pop chart credentials of Rudimental and Disclosure, the decision caused stunned faces across the crowd.

Blake seemed surprised at his win, only giving a minimal acceptance speech to the packed venue. Backstage grasping his award he spoke of his feelings on winning.

"The dreams you have when you're punching through water and if you're lucky [you] dream hitting them right on the nose. When what you thought wasn't going to happen does, that's very surreal.”

On beating David Bowie to the prize, Blake said, “I don't think I beat him. It's amazing to be in the running for this prize. A lot of people do their best work when they're young and it's always disappointing to me when they don't continue in that vein and innovate. David Bowie is an example to people like me to keep on innovating."

In a night packed with stunning performances from ten of the 12 nominees star turns came from Disclosure, whose intricate live rendition of their house-referencing sound showed how live dance music can be engaging, and Savages, whose post-punk live show gets tighter and tighter and now matches the brilliance of their debut record Silence Yourself.

Rudimental put in the most energetic performance of the evening with ‘Waiting All Night’ featuring the vocals of Ella Eyre. The pure energy and entertainment showed a band having fun but still having a way to go to be a great live act musically.

On last Arctic Monkeys played like ‘headliners’ to the whole night showing why they are the biggest rock band in the UK right now.

Fans hoping for a David Bowie appearance were left disappointed, but were treated to a world premiere showing of the new video for ‘Love Is Lost’, which showed why the Thin White Duke is still as relevant as ever.

Laura Marling was also absent but provided a mesmerising pre-recorded video of a performance of ‘Master Hunter’, taken from her third Mercury nominated album, Once I Was An Eagle.

All in all the Mercury Prize 2013 was a grand showcase for British music, and one that again was full of surprises.

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