LIVE FOCUS: With a nominations list that namechecks stadium giants, timeless legends, a world conquering folk act and rising indie stars, picking the likely winner of this year’s BRITs British Live Act Award is a tough call, says Russell Iliffe.
Live music is bigger than ever and the BRIT Awards have certainly recognised this by packing the shortlist with Coldplay, Muse, Rolling Stones, Mumford & Sons and The Vaccines.
Coldplay have sold over 55 million albums worldwide in their career and have become a huge touring force. They spent much of last year playing across Europe, North America and Australasia with the Mylo Xyloto Tour named after their massively successful fifth album.
The band touched down in the UK with eight stadium dates and also played at Capital FM’s Summertime Ball, a performance which topped a Wembley Stadium Facebook poll to name the venue’s best moment of 2012. They also memorably played a full live set at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony, once again cementing their position as one of our most consistent, prolific and best loved live acts.
Last year saw Muse continue their success by scoring their fourth UK number one album with The 2nd Law. The band toured to support it and hit the UK for five nights while also playing the Roundhouse as part of the iTunes Festival. It was a busy year for Muse as their single Survival was the official song for the London 2012 Olympics with the band performing it at the closing ceremony.
Muse have won the BRIT live award on two previous occasions and were named as the Best Act in the World Today at last year’s Q Awards, so are in with a chance of clinching the prize on the night.
Meanwhile, rock veterans Rolling Stones may have played just two UK dates on their 50 and Counting Tour towards the end of last year but anticipation was high. The legends caused a sensation with some ticket prices exceeding £400, but the band’s evergreen appeal meant that the dates at London’s 02 sold out and were among 2012’s most talked about gigs. The short tour also included three US dates and coincided with the release of new greatest hits package GRRR!
Last year saw Mumford & Sons conquer the world with their brand of contemporary English folk, even exploding in the States where sales of second album Babel shot through the roof with 600,000 copies sold in its first week. Last year the band play 22 UK dates as well as headlining the main stage at Scotland’s RockNess festival in June. With two multi-platinum albums now under their belt, heavy touring across the globe has been a key factor in getting the Mumford & Sons sound into so many major markets.
Finally, in a year where young guitar bands often seemed absent from the charts, The Vaccines have bucked the trend and claimed their first number one album with Come of Age. The band appeared at seven festivals last year including Reading, Isle of Wight, T in the Park and Leeds. In addition they also appeared at the Radio One Big Weekend at Hackney Marsh, supported the Stone Roses at Manchester’s Heaton Park and toured the UK, flying the flag for indie rock.