Gilles Peterson has been a tireless champion of music of a left-field bent for over twenty years now. From being the main exponent of the acid jazz scene through pirate radio in the 80’s to his weekly Worldwide show on Radio 1, Gilles has been a constant presence at the forefront of world music for over two decades.
Fittingly then, Gilles has taken it upon himself to helm the Worldwide Awards, celebrating the music he has worked so tirelessly to champion. Here we have a minute by minute, blow by blow account of how the day panned out for the man himself.
9am Pressed snooze on the alarm clock. The Worldwide Awards warm-up party at XOYO had been a bit too lively! It had featured Toronto-based jazzers BADBADNOTGOOD, local group 2Morrows Victory, out-there German Flako / Dirg Gerner and Lefto, the Brussels DJ with impeccable style. Pass the Alka-Seltzer!
Meanwhile at Koko, Gilles’s team rock up at the venue and begin sound checking – with six live performances and seven DJs to please it’s a long old day.
5pm With less than two hours before the first act, Southampton-based twiddler Gang Colours begins and Gilles arrives at Koko for a quick run-through.
6pm Wearing a Roger Federer-esque white blazer he is happy with the preparations and, with Lefto and long-time east London buddy Earl Zinger, hops into neighbouring Japanese restaurant Asakusa and tucks into some eel – but no booze. “Just green tea; I know there will be plenty of time for alcohol later. I need to pace myself,” he jokes with Mixmag.
7.30-8.15pm Peterson catches the end of Gang Colours and welcomes on stage, “a colourful Swiss lad who loves hiking”, Dimlite, whose new album Grimm Reality has received critical acclaim, largely thanks to the BBC Radio1 DJ bigging up his countryman. Later he tells Mixmag: “Dimlite was the highlight of the night, for me.”
8.15-9.15pm DJs Zane Lowe, Hudson Mohawke and Lefto spin the crowd, which is beginning to fill the old theatre to capacity, in to a lather while Peterson cracks open a couple of beers and greets guests, introducing those that haven’t met before to one another. “This is what it is all about: the fusion of generations. Problem is it’s always the oldies who make the most of the champagne, and it was the same again this year with The Pyramids!”
9.15pm The Ohio-based psychedelic jazz quintet wow the crowd with a magical performance, and show no signs of the bubbles they have been quaffing down as they snake through the crowd.
10.15pm After a quick set change, accompanied by DJ Kutmah showcasing his talents, the newly crowned BBC’s Sound of 2012, Michael Kiwanuka is welcomed on stage by Peterson. He slows the pace of the evening down, but his soulful lyrics and acoustic guitar are soon replaced and cranked up by another Lefto set before the Awards presentation.
11.15pm Peterson, having managed to pinch a swig or two of champers, takes centre stage announcing the winners, which included Kiwanuka (best session); SBTRKT (album); Matthew Halsall (jazz album) and Adele whose ‘Rollin’ In The Deep’ (Jamie XX remix) wins track of the year.
11.45pm Thundercat, who just missed out to SBTRKT in the best album category, was up next. By now, following the formalities, the crowd are ready to truly dance, and with Jamie XX wowing with a half-hour DJ set before SBTRKT takes to the stage the party is in full swing.
1.15am Julio Bashmore plays a 45-minute set and by now it’s beginning to get a little messy. Just in time for the band who Peterson has been bigging up most in recent weeks, BADBADNOTGOOD, to take the stage. “It was pretty funny – they are so young and extravagantly talented that two of their group had to head back to Canada and be in school on the Monday morning,” Peterson jokes. The crowd, still nearly at capacity, gave suitable encouragement.
2.30pm Koreless ended the night’s music, and Peterson heading homeward knowing that the Worldwide Awards had been a great success once again. Game, set and match!
This article was first published in Mixmag in February 2012