Light finally shines on Club Cymru

By BBC News Online’s Robert Andrews

Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and a Cardiffian called Jean Jacques Smoothie took the trophies as the Welsh dance music scene stepped up to its first ever award ceremony in style.

The Welsh Music Awards’ dance evening at the capital’s Coal Exchange recognised artists, DJs and producers in 30 genre-busting categories.

A scantily-clad troupe of girls wearing basques and suspenders kicked off the lavish evening in style with a table-top homage to Moulin Rouge.

But it was Smoothie – alias Cardiff DJ Steve Robson – who stole the show, coming of age with the Best Single award for 2 People, which recently reached 12 in the UK chart.

He was run close by chart-bound techno outfits Manchild and Kosheen.

Oakenfold was named Best International DJ, Welsh-born Sasha won the Lifetime Achievement award, while Hybrid walked off with the Best Live Act award.

Meanwhile, Cardiff clubs Liquid and the Emporium were named the Best Venues in Wales.

Out of the cold

Organised by Music Academy Wales, the plush Welsh Music Awards are backed by Galaxy 101, Buzz magazine and Promoting Youth Networks in the Cultural Industries, a New Deal spin-off.

Split into two nights, the Welsh old guard had already been dispensed with the night before, at the rock and pop awards evening.

Tom Jones was given the obligatory Lifetime Achievement honour and the Stereophonics were awkwardly branded Best Pop Act

David Gray and Charlotte Church flexed their Welsh muscles in the Best Male and Female categories, while the ever-innovative Super Furry Animals walked away with everything else.

Proceedings were even laden with an International Act award which predictably went to Radiohead, ahead of Air and The Strokes.

This was a chance, away from the choirs and the classics, for the best of the emerging hip hop, drum ‘n bass and house to stake is claim to the new map of music.

Maxim magazine music editor Iestyn George, who hosted the ceremony with TV presenter Beca Evans, said the formal recognition was “extremely overdue.”

“We need something to recognise Wales as a territory because the rest of the music industry outside Wales does,” he told BBC News Online backstage amid the suspenders and smiles.

“The dance music industry has gone terribly unnoticed – it’s a far bigger industry than traditional rock and pop in Wales, but they’ve been ignored for so many years.

“And the best clubs I’ve ever been to are in places like Tenby, Leeds Manchester and Sunderland, so we don’t need to have a London insecurity complex.”

Smoothie’s success aside, few of the artists at the Welsh Music Awards have broken into the top half of the Top 40.

But many – Manchild, Talkshow, Mark Lawrence and an under-appreciated hip hop scene – may soon be, and the Welsh music circuit is growing to incorporate another two award shows.

The Writs, for the Welsh Recording Industry, follows suit next Spring and hopes to attract 5,500 to Cardiff International Arena.

Despite the competition, however, George is disparaging about the new abundance.

“It would’ve been great for us to be able to concentrate on one,” he says.

“Publicly there’s no beef between the Writs and the Welsh Music Academy, but of course there is.

“The Welsh music industry is nowhere near big enough to accommodate them all.”

No-one was bitter, however. All 30 winners, 90 nominees, their guests and the suspender-belt girls headed to another city superclub, Evolution, to celebrate their coming of age.