Wolf Alice have won the 27th annual Mercury Prize for their album Visions Of A Life.
Accepting their music award at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, the group said they couldn’t believe they had taken the prize with acts like Noel Gallagher sitting in the audience.
An emotional Ellie Rowsell – the band’s lead singer – was brought to tears as she thanked the judges for the prestigious music gong.
The four-piece London band – who met as teenagers – then performed live, joking that they “needed a Jaegerbomb” for Dutch courage before heading back to the stage.
Speaking to journalists afterwards, the band joked that they were in shock when they accepted the prize on stage, saying they “instantly regretted their words”.
Theo Ellis, the group’s bass player, complete with ice-blond buzz cut and a safety pin in his ear, said: “I told a lot of labels to f*** off… It’s a bit mad. But they can still f*** off.” Adding with a smile, “I think now I need to take it a bit more seriously.”
Rowsell, who has previously been a judge in the competition, said her behind-the-scenes knowledge of the prize added an extra element of pride to taking home the trophy.
She said: “It means 100% more, knowing what it’s like to listen to over 300 albums. The dedication it needs. I’ve been privileged to have an insight into intensity and the frustration of the awards.”
The band, who are jetting off on tour to Australia on Friday, joked that they would make sure they didn’t miss their flight, adding that despite the award they would still be flying economy.
Their album – which is their second studio record and second nomination for the prize – is a mix of pop, grunge and indie rock guitar.
Ahead of the ceremony, the band told Sky News they thought they were “too pop for rock, and too rock for pop”.
They said rock hasn’t been a fashionable genre of late, with band member Joel Amey admitting a guitar group hadn’t really stormed the charts since he was a teenager.
The ceremony itself – which featured performances from each of the 12 nominated acts – was opened by Florence + The Machine, with the emotional and raw song Hunger.
Noel Gallagher – who was nominated for the first time as a solo act Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – and rock band Arctic Monkeys both represented their work with pre-recorded videos.
While Arctic Monkeys – who have won the prize once before – had the excuse of performing in Sheffield and so missing the show, Gallagher was in the room, watching along with the rest of the audience.
Despite the strangeness of watching filmed footage of Gallagher’s band performing Holy Mountain during a Jools Holland show, the song was met with a positive reception.
The first standing ovation of the night went to jazz band Sons Of Kemet, who sang an energy infused track from their album Your Queen Is A Reptile.
The winner was chosen by a panel of independent judges, including singer-songwriters Marcus Mumford, Ella Eyre and Jamie Cullum.
The prestigious award aims to recognise artistic achievement across the whole spectrum of music genres – deciding on just one winner to take home the trophy for album of the year.
This year, rock, pop, R&B, jazz, and grime were all represented in the eclectic mix of shortlisted acts.
However, while the award celebrates musicians at all stages of their careers, just three of the album’s in this year’s final 12 were debut works.
Novelist with Novelist Guy, Jorja Smith with Lost & Found and Everything Is Recorded with a record of the same name were the newbies in the pack.
Traditionally, the winner of the award also receives a massive boost to their audience following the exposure the music accolade naturally affords.