Estonian Music Awards Capture the Moon and the Stars
The Estonian Music Awards for 2017 did not present major surprises, but did give some of the cream of the country's talent a chance to shine in the Nordea Concert Hall on Thursday night. The headline was the lifetime achievement award given to punk legend Villu Tamme for his thirty years in the business. His best-known songs were performed, a capella, by all-star group Estonian Voices.
The Music Awards have long brought together modern and historical acts and helped to draw a line from past to present. Bringing things bang up to date were I Wear* Experiment, the winners of Album of the Year for their debut full-length release Patience. Beginning with singer Johanna Eenma singing alone in a tunnel of light, the set opened up to reveal bandmates Mikk Simson and Hando Jaksi, providing the band's trademark full-steam instrumental drive. I Wear* Experiment beat albums from the likes of Jüri Pootsmann to take the major prize of the evening, and one of the other surprises of the night was Pootsmann, a big winner in 2016, going away empty-handed for Täna.
If anyone rivals Pootsmann in the teen-heartthrob stakes it is Karl-Erik Taukar, and the pop-rock showman certainly knows how to turn out a performance. Beginning outside the building, Taukar and his band took a break in the middle of their performance to remove their coats, before switching from acoustic to electric instruments. Taukar won Best Pop Album for Kaks, along with Best Male Artist.
It was hard to upstage such a polished performance, but Laura Põldvere managed it, hanging from the ceiling atop a crescent moon as part of a collaboration with Lenna Kuurma, Liis Lemsalu and Taukar that brought together some of Estonian pop's most enduring figures of recent years.
There were no such visual shocks in the one-man set performed by Best Indie or Alternative Act winner Mikk Pedaja, who sang his delicate, complex track Breathe Breath / Hingake completely live, the loops taking the audience, briefly, to another place, in a hypnotic performance. There was further reward for experimentation as Kadri Voorand, part of Estonian Voices, won Best Jazz Album and also Female Artist of the year in a year in which Armupurjus, her quartet's album, showed that Voorand is far more than just a great technical singer, the tracks taking in hard-rock influences and vocal effects.
With veteran rockers Elephants from Neptune scooping the prize, as expected, for Best Rock Album for their release Oh No, and also Best Group, another anticipated winner was Maarja Nuut, the ground-breaking violinist taking Best Folk Album for Une Meeles. In a sign of how far Nuut has come in such a short time, the sometime music teacher from Lahemaa had to send in a video acceptance speech from San Diego, where she is touring.
The performance of Andres Kõpper, otherwise known as NOEP, was uplifting in every way, with the DJ decks lifted high above a boy's and male-voice choir singing the lyrics Kõpper had put together himself as part of a one-man record that has taken northern Europe by storm. Rooftops was the appropriate title of the feel-good tune. Metsakutsu may have picked up Best Hip-Hop Album, but there could only be one winner of Best Video, with Tommy Cash having caused a social-media viral sensation with his cheeky (in every way) promo for Winaloto.
Text: Stuart Garlick
Photos: Andrei Chertkov
Please see the link for our entire gallery of the Estonian Music Awards 2017 here.