Arcade Fire big winners; Neil Young gets artist of the year

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Toronto — Arcade Fire won a leading four trophies — including album of the year — while rock legend Neil Young claimed the prize for artist of the year and 17-year-old teen-pop titan Justin Bieber won the first two Juno Awards of his career at a 40th-anniversary bash Sunday that looked to the past as well as the future.

But the news wasn’t as good for 24-year-old rapper Drake, who hosted the hometown Juno hullabaloo with energetic panache and entered the weekend with a leading six nominations, but wound up heading home empty-handed.

Arcade Fire — the fiercely independent Montreal rockers whose cerebral, orchestral rock has helped them gradually build a devoted following — stunned the music world six weeks ago by claiming the award for album of the year at the Grammys.

Then, Texas-born frontman Win Butler fell to his knees out of shock. On Sunday, the band was more subdued but still seemed touched.

“We’re truly overwhelmed,” said the band’s gangly multi-instrumentalist, Richard Reed Parry. “Thank you everybody. Thank you to Montreal, our home where we all live, and thanks to Toronto.

“Toronto is one of the first places we had, like, really exciting shows and felt like something crazy might be about to happen.

“And something did. So thanks for being there with us.”

Young, meanwhile, had already put in his first appearance at the Junos in 29 years earlier in the weekend when he claimed the trophy for adult alternative album of the year at a dinner gala Saturday where the bulk of the Junos were handed out.

Still, the 65-year-old — who was also honoured with an award for his philanthropy on Sunday — seemed genuinely tickled as he climbed the stage to claim the prize for artist of the year.

“What year is this?” he said, with a mystified smile on his face. “Man, I am totally surprised. Arcade Fire, what a great performance that was, what a great group. Justin Bieber — what can you say? I mean, this guy’s sensational. And the other artists are all wonderful.

“It’s just totally incomprehensible that I’m here. But it’s a great honour. Thank you very much everybody. I really appreciate it. O Canada!”

Unfortunately for millions of his tween devotees watching at home, Bieber — that platinum-selling, pint-sized pop crooner from Stratford, Ont. — couldn’t appear in person to collect his first two Juno trophies due to a scheduling demand overseas.

However, he accepted his awards via video messages. “I want to thank everybody so much for believing in me,” said Bieber, captured onstage in an empty arena. “Most of all, I want to thank my mom for raising me in Canada. I want to thank my dad, I want to thank my little brother and sister — because, you know, they’re so cute and just so lovable.”

“I love everybody, my grandma and grandpa. You guys are amazing. Go Leafs go.”

The 40th anniversary celebration of the Junos — which began back on Feb. 23, 1970 as an informal, non-televised dinner gala in Toronto and have evolved into a glitzy broadcast bonanza — promised to celebrate Canadian music’s storied past as well as its future.

Presenters included Randy Bachman, Buffy Sainte Marie and Robbie Robertson, and a tribute to the hit tunes of Junos past, during which a large cast of performers — including Jim Cuddy, Sarah Harmer and the Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn — joined forces for a medley of covers of classic Canuck compositions including Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” Young’s “Old Man” and the Band’s “The Shape I’m In.”

But the evening received a jolt of star power with an appearance from beloved country icon Twain.

The 45-year-old Timmins, Ont., native was ushered into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame with an introduction speech from Bryan Adams, who called Twain a “Canadian treasure,” and video testimonials from Taylor Swift and Anne Murray.

Then, Twain gave an emotional (and fitting) take on the meaning of the Junos, as the awards celebrated 40 years.

“Thank you so much,” said the singer, clad in a sparkling sleeveless gown. “I really am turning into such a sap. But this is just a very beautiful moment for me. I’m really so proud of Canada’s talent. I sit here tonight in the audience, and I watch these amazing artists up here on the stage, world-class talent, songwriters, singers, performers — we should be proud of these people. They’re just blowing me away.

“I guess, I have more pride in what the country has created musically than I (have) even (in) my own success. Honestly, I’m just more proud to be from Canada, and to be part of everything that’s happening here musically.

“This is a beautiful country. ... I feel like I should just be wearing the Canadian flag tonight to be honest with you. I would love that.”

Sunday Junor Winners

 The winners at Sunday’s Juno Awards 40th anniversary celebration:

‰    Album of the Year: Arcade Fire, “The Suburbs”

‰    Artist of the Year: Neil Young

‰    Group of the Year: Arcade Fire

‰    New Artist of the Year: Meaghan Smith

‰    Songwriter of the Year: Arcade Fire

‰    Pop Album of the Year: Justin Bieber, “My World 2.0”

‰    Juno Fan Choice Award: Justin Bieber

‰    Single of the Year: Young Artists for Haiti, “Wavin’ Flag”

Source: The Canadian Press

Organizations: Barenaked Ladies, Canadian Music Hall

Geographic location: Toronto, Montreal, Canada Texas Stratford

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