Arias 2017: Gang of Youths, Paul Kelly and AB Orig­i­nal lead cel­e­bra­tion of mu­sic and change

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page - Naa­man Zhouand Steph Har­mon

Gang of Youths and Paul Kelly were the big win­ners at the 31st Aria awards, on a night that saw Indigenous rap duo AB Orig­i­nal de­clare “change doesn’t come from ev­ery­one be­ing com­fort­able” af­ter Triple J’s de­ci­sion to move the date of the Hottest 100.

On their way to win­ning best in­de­pen­dent re­lease and best ur­ban re­lease, rap­pers Briggs and Tri­als de­liv­ered the per­for­mance of the night with Kelly and Dan Sul­tan. Their up­dated, ex­plic­itly po­lit­i­cal, cover of Dumb Things saw Briggs rap the now-pre­scient line: “The date’s changin’.”

“We made this al­bum for our com­mu­nity, in our com­mu­nity, from our com­mu­nity,” said Briggs of the group’s de­but al­bum, Re­claim Aus­tralia. “We made ourselves ex­tremely un­com­fort­able try­ing to make this record, try­ing to up­set all those red­necks, but we did it ... They were vo­cal, but we just had the bet­ter al­bum.”

Syd­ney band Gang of Youths picked up the most awards on the night, win­ning al­bum of the year, best group and best rock al­bum for their Aria chart-top­ping se­cond al­bum Go Far­ther In Light­ness. They won best pro­ducer ear­lier this year in the ar­ti­san cat­e­gories, which took their tally – with Kelly’s – to four.

In a mov­ing speech, lead singer Dave Le’au­pepe paid trib­ute to his band’s mi­grant her­itage. “We’re all im­mi­grants to this coun­try, ev­ery sin­gle one of us,” he said. “This coun­try was built on a strong Indigenous peo­ple and on the backs of im­mi­grants.”

“We’re Pa­cific Is­lan­ders and we’re very proud of our her­itage. We are a lov­ing com­mu­nity and we’re not just use­ful on the footy field, and we hope this proves some­thing.”

Le’au­pepe thanked AB Orig­i­nal for “mak­ing an in­cen­di­ary, im­por­tant record for the brown boys”, and praised Amy Shark for be­ing “one of the strong­est women”. “My grand­par­ents came on a boat af­ter the Holo­caust,” he said. “They came as refugees to this coun­try and thank you for wel­com­ing us.”

Ear­lier in the night, the red car­pet was dom­i­nated by ques­tions about Triple J’s de­ci­sion to move the date of the Hottest 100 away from Jan­uary 26.

“That day com­mem­o­rates the be­gin­ning of the on­go­ing geno­cide of our peo­ple,” Sul­tan said. Sul­tan fea­tured on AB Orig­i­nal’s 2016 sin­gle Jan­uary 26, which ar­gued for Aus­tralia Day to be moved and be­came a ral­ly­ing point for the cam­paign to change the date of Triple J’s an­nual poll.

Briggs also didn’t mince words: “Aus­tralia Day is trash,” he said. “It’s

14 years old. We’ve got 80,000 years of his­tory here. I think it’s a good tra­jec­tory for the in­dus­try. It’s also a good in­di­ca­tion of how the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple feel. They’re rea­son­able folks who know that Aus­tralia Day is trash and we can’t en­joy the count­down that in­cludes our songs on that day.”

Paul Kelly won best male artist and best adult con­tem­po­rary al­bum for Life is Fine, three years af­ter his last win and 20 years af­ter he was in­ducted into the Aria Hall of Fame. Life is Fine is his first al­bum to de­but at #1 on the Aria charts; it also won two ar­ti­san awards, for best en­gi­neer and best cover art.

Amy Shark, whose sin­gle Adore came se­cond at last year’s Hottest 100, won best pop re­lease and break­through artist.

“There are a lot of years that I was frus­trated with the in­dus­try,” she said. “I just wanted ev­ery­one to hear my mu­sic so bad. My heart can’t han­dle this. This is an in­cred­i­ble night for me.”

Sia won best fe­male artist for the se­cond year in a row, and the third time since 2014. De­spite be­ing in the coun­try for an up­com­ing sta­dium tour, the fame-shy pop singer did not appear.

The cer­e­mony – held at Syd­ney’s Star casino and hosted more than a lit­tle awk­wardly by Richard Wilkins – saw a high cal­i­bre of per­for­mances, in­clud­ing one from ex-One Di­rec­tion-er Harry Styles and an­other from Lorde, who com­bined piano bal­lad Li­a­bil­ity with her hit sin­gle Green Light.

Jes­sica Mauboy mashed-up her song Fallin’ with Pek­ing Duk’s song of the year win­ner Stranger, and Gang of Youths played What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out.

Dar­ryl Braithwaite was in­ducted into the Aria hall of fame by fel­low Aus­tralian mu­sic leg­end Jimmy Barnes, and brought the se­cond-big­gest cheer of the night with The Horses, per­formed with Guy Se­bas­tian and Vera Blue. But Styles – who won the fan-voted best in­ter­na­tional artist – got the big­gest screams, with a per­for­mance of Kiwi.

Rap­per Illy won best live act, hiphop group Bliss N Eso won best video for their sin­gle Mo­ments, and Kasey Cham­bers won her eighth solo Aria, pick­ing up best coun­try al­bum for Dragon­fly.

“There’s a lot of neg­a­tive stuff said about be­ing a woman in the in­dus­try over 40 years old,” she said, “but I fuck­ing love it!”

Syd­ney band All Our Exes Live In Texas won best blues and roots al­bum for When We Fall. Speak­ing in the press room, Han­nah Croft told re­porters her nails spelled out “Save Manus”, while Katie Wighton said hers spelled “#metoo”.

“As a fem­i­nist band it’s very im­por­tant for us, par­tic­u­larly at the mo­ment,” she said. “We work with a team of women, our man­ager is a woman, and both our book­ing agents are women.”

They told aspir­ing fe­male artists to “just form a band with your girl­friends, get in a garage just like the boys do.”

Jimmy Barnes led a huge ren­di­tion of AC/DC’s High Volt­age in honour of the Young broth­ers: AC/DC guitarist Mal­colm Young who died on 18 Novem­ber, and his older brother Ge­orge Young, the AC/DC pro­ducer and Easy­beats band mem­ber who died a month ear­lier.

Barnes also won his first award since 1992 for chil­dren’s record Och Aye the G’Nu!, and ac­cepted the award along­side An­thony Field from The Wig­gles, and his very young grand­son Dy­lan.

Barnes, who has re­cently re­leased two me­moirs chron­i­cling his ad­dic­tion and de­pres­sion, said writ­ing about his life has been “a re­ally good thing”.

“You prob­a­bly could have done this with a ther­a­pist, which I was do­ing as well, but I’ve had to do it in the pub­lic eye ob­vi­ously ... Most peo­ple re­mem­ber more about those days then I do. But it’s been very cathar­tic. It’s a re­ally nice thing to do.”

The full win­ners list: Al­bum of the year

WIN­NER: Gang Of Youths – Go Far­ther In Light­ness A.B. Orig­i­nal – Re­claim Aus­tralia Amy Shark – Night Thinker Illy – Two De­grees Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine

Best male artist

WIN­NER: Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine D.D Dumbo – Utopia De­feated Dan Sul­tan – Killer Illy – Two De­grees Vance Joy – Lay It On Me

Best fe­male artist

WIN­NER: Sia – The Great­est feat. Ken­drick La­mar Amy Shark – Night Thinker Jes­sica Mauboy – The Se­cret Daugh­ter (Songs from the Orig­i­nal TV Se­ries) Ju­lia Jack­lin – Don’t Let The Kids Win Meg Mac – Low Blows

Best dance re­lease

WIN­NER: Pnau – Chameleon Dom Dolla amp; Tor­ren Foot – Be Randy Jag­war Ma – Ev­ery Now amp; Then Pek­ing Duk – Stranger (feat. El­liphant) The Kite String Tan­gle – The Kite String Tan­gle

Best group

WIN­NER: Gang Of Youths – Go Far­ther In Light­ness A.B Orig­i­nal – Re­claim Aus­tralia King Giz­zard amp; The Lizard Wiz­ard – Fly­ing Mi­cro­tonal Ba­nana Nick Cave amp; The Bad Seeds – Skele­ton Tree Pek­ing Duk – Stranger (feat. El­liphant)

Break­through artist

WIN­NER: Amy Shark – Night Thinker A.B Orig­i­nal – Re­claim Aus­tralia Dean Lewis – Waves Tash Sul­tana – No­tion Tkay Maidza – TKAY

Best pop re­lease

WIN­NER: Amy Shark – Night Thinker Dean Lewis – Waves Jes­sica Mauboy – Fallin’ Sia – The Great­est (feat. Ken­drick La­mar) Vera Blue – Peren­nial

Best ur­ban al­bum

WIN­NER: A.B. Orig­i­nal – Re­claim Aus­tralia Illy – Two De­grees REMI – Di­vas amp; De­mons Thun­da­men­tals – Ev­ery­one We Know Tkay Maidza – TKAY

Best in­de­pen­dent re­lease

WIN­NER: A.B. Orig­i­nal – Re­claim Aus­tralia Dan Sul­tan – Killer Sia – The Great­est (feat. Ken­drick La­mar) Tash Sul­tana – No­tion Vance Joy – Lay It On Me

Best rock al­bum

WIN­NER: Gang Of Youths – Go Far­ther In Light­ness Dan Sul­tan – Killer Dune Rats – The Kids Will Know It’s Bull­shit Pol­ish Club – Al­right Al­ready The Prea­tures – Girl­hood

Best adult con­tem­po­rary al­bum

WIN­NER: Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine Bernard Fan­ning – Bru­tal Dawn D.D Dumbo – Utopia De­feated Nick Cave amp; The Bad Seeds – Skele­ton Tree Pete Mur­ray – Ca­ma­cho

Best coun­try al­bum

WIN­NER: Kasey Cham­bers – Dragon­fly Lee Ker­naghan – The 25th An­niver­sary Al­bum O’Shea – 61-615 Shane Ni­chol­son – Love And Blood The McC­ly­monts – End­less

Best hard rock/heavy me­tal al­bum

WIN­NER: North­lane – Mes­mer Air­bourne – Break­ing Outta Hell Fren­zal Rhomb – Hi-Vis High Tea King Giz­zard amp; The Lizard Wiz­ard – Mur­der Of The Uni­verse Sleep­makeswaves – Made of Breath Only

Best blues amp; roots al­bum

WIN­NER: All Our Exes Live In Texas – When We Fall Archie Roach – Let Love Rule Busby Marou – Post­cards From The Shell House Paul Kelly amp; Char­lie Owen – Death’s Date­less Night Tash Sul­tana – No­tion

Best chil­dren’s al­bum

WIN­NER: Jimmy Barnes – Och Aye the G’Nu! Lah-Lah – Having Fun! Peter Combe – Live It Up The Idea of North, Lior amp; Elena Kats-Ch­ernin – A Piece of Quiet [The Hush Col­lec­tion, Vol 16] The Wig­gles – The Wig­gles Duets

Best video

WIN­NER: Bliss N Eso – Mo­ments (feat. Gavin James) Jes­sica Mauboy – Fallin’ Amy Shark – Drive You Mad Client Li­ai­son – A For­eign Af­fair Client Li­ai­son – Off White Limou­sine Dean Lewis – Waves Gang Of Youths – The Deep­est Signs, the Frank­est Shad­ows Illy – You Say When (feat. Marko Penn) Kirin J Cal­li­nan – S.A.D Sia – The Great­est (feat. Ken­drick La­mar)

Best Aus­tralian live act (pub­lic voted)

WIN­NER: Illy Gang Of Youths Client Li­ai­son Flume Jes­sica Mauboy King Giz­zard amp; The Lizard Wiz­ard Nick Cave amp; The Bad Seeds Pek­ing Duk Tash Sul­tana Vi­o­lent Soho

Song of the year (pub­lic voted)

WIN­NER: Pek­ing Duk – Stranger (feat. El­liphant) ’Amy Shark – Adore Bliss N Eso – Mo­ments (feat. Gavin James) Dean Lewis – Waves Guy Se­bas­tian – Set In Stone Illy – Catch 22 (feat. Anne-Marie) Jes­sica Mauboy – Fallin Pnau – Chameleon Sia – The Great­est (feat. Ken­drick La­mar) Star­ley – Call On Me (Ryan Riback Remix)

Best in­ter­na­tional artist (pub­lic voted)

WIN­NER: Harry Styles – Harry Styles Adele – 25 Bruno Mars – 24K Magic Ed Sheeran – ÷ and Loose Change Ken­drick La­mar – DAMN and Un­ti­tled Un­mas­tered Lorde – Melo­drama Me­tal­lica – Hard­wired... To Self-Destruct Shawn Men­des – Il­lu­mi­nate The Rolling Stones – Blue amp; Lone­some The Weeknd – Star­boy

Mu­sic teacher of the year:

Re­nee McCarthy (Wood­croft Col­lege, Mor­phett Vale SA)

Ar­ti­san awards

Pro­ducer Of The Year: Gang Of Youths and Adrian Break­s­pear for Gang Of Youths’ Go Far­ther In Light­ness

En­gi­neer Of The Year: Steven Schram for Paul Kelly’s Life Is Fine

Best Cover Art: Peter Salmon Lo­mas for Paul Kelly’s Life Is Fine

Fine arts awards

Best Clas­si­cal Al­bum: Slava Grig­o­ryan – Bach: Cello Suites Vol­ume I

Best Jazz Al­bum: James Mor­ri­son, BBC Con­cert Orches­tra, Keith Lock­hart, Harry Mor­ri­son amp; Wil­liam Mor­ri­son – The Great Amer­i­can Songbook

Best Orig­i­nal Sound­track/Cast/ Show Al­bum: Nigel West­lake amp; Syd­ney Sym­phony Orches­tra, with Joseph Tawadros, Slava Grig­o­ryan amp; Lior – Ali’s Wed­ding

Best World Mu­sic Al­bum: Katie Noo­nan and Karin Schaupp – Songs of the Latin Skies

Best com­edy re­lease: John Clarke – Clarke’s Clas­sics

Dan Sul­tan, Paul Kelly and A.B. Orig­i­nal af­ter per­form­ing their up­date of Dumb Things. Pho­to­graph: Scott Bar­bour/Getty Images for ARIA

‘The date’s changin’’: Briggs and Tri­als of AB Orig­i­nal ac­cept the Aria award for best ur­ban re­lease. Pho­to­graph: David Moir/AAP

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