Cham­pagne mo­ment

Lisa Han­ni­gan pours the prosecco af­ter her Mer­cury nom­i­na­tion this week. Brian Boyd was there

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

‘H AVE a prosecco,” says Lisa Han­ni­gan as she pours the drinks in a Lon­don pasta restau­rant just af­ter the an­nounce­ment that she is one of the 12 acts nom­i­nated for this year’s Mer­cury Prize for the best Bri­tish or Ir­ish al­bum of the year.

“It’s been hell for me as they told me a few days ago be­cause they wanted to me to per­form at the nom­i­na­tion cer­e­mony to­day [Tues­day], so I couldn’t tell any­one in case they took it away from me,” says the 29-yearold from Co Meath.

There were cries of “Lisa who?” from the as­sem­bled Bri­tish me­dia throng – Han­ni­gan was a sur­prise nom­i­na­tion – but she soon got into the swing of things. “There were about 10 pho­tog­ra­phers in my face shout­ing ‘Lisa, Lisa, Lisa’ just af­ter the an­nounce­ment – it was wild.

“To tell you the sort of state I was in, I in­vited Kasabian, who were also per­form­ing at the cer­e­mony to­day, out for a fight!”

Sur­rounded by her man­ager and band, Han­ni­gan re­flects on her de­but al­bum Sea Sew’s gen­e­sis. “We pre­pared the whole al­bum in a barn in Thomas­town and recorded it later in Dublin, so for it to get this far is just unreal,” she says. To date, Sea Sew, which was re­leased last Septem­ber, has sold 45,000 copies world­wide – with 15,000 of those copies sold in Ire­land. Han­ni­gan was as sur­prised as every­one else by the ec­cen­tric­ity of this year’s short­listlist.

“I can’t be­lieve Doves weren’t nom­i­nated. I ex­pected Glasve­gas and a few of the oth­ers, but there are still some real sur­prises on the list. Florence and the Ma­chine are the hot favourites, I think”.

The book­mak­ers William Hill had Han­ni­gan at 8/1 to win the award, but her wily man­ager gets on the phone and finds very at­trac­tive odds of 34/1 with an­other book­maker. We all throw our cash on the ta­ble and the man­ager legs it to the book­ies just be­fore they close.

In the Mer­cury’s 17-year ex­is­tence, only a hand­ful of Ir­ish acts have made it to the nom­i­na­tion stage; Han­ni­gan joins a group which in­cludes U2, Van Mor­ri­son, Snow Pa­trol, Ther­apy? and Gemma Hayes.

“It is re­ally ex­cit­ing, but I’m re­al­is­tic about this – I’m not Florence and the Ma­chine. But to get this far for our self-re­leased al­bum is quite some­thing.”

Speak­ing at the cer­e­mony, the chair of the judg­ing panel, Si­mon Frith, said: “This has been a rich and creative year for Bri­tish and Ir­ish mu­sic. There are seven fine de­but al­bums on the list and five out­stand­ing records from more es­tab­lished acts, all mark­ing out new ground. What most im­presses is the imag­i­na­tive verve with which Bri­tish and Ir­ish mu­si­cians con­tinue to ex­plore mu­si­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties, push mu­si­cal bound­aries and refuse to be pinned down by genre.”

The over­all award will be an­nounced on Septem­ber 8th. www.mer­curyprize.com

Prize fighter: Mer­cury-nom­i­nated Lisa Han­ni­gan plays at the Lin­de­man’s Early Har­vest Gar­den Party in Kil­rud­dery Gar­dens, Bray on Wed­nes­day. Pho­to­graph: Joe Keogh

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