U2 stole the show at tonight’s Meteor Ireland Music Awards as the rock band swaggered away with three awards at their home town event.
The band, who have been topping the charts for over 20 years, successfully fended off newcomers to rake in the award for Best Irish Band, whilst their latest effort ’How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb’ took the Best Irish Album.
Before a packed out Point Theatre in Dublin, U2, who were represented by Adam Clayton, were also awarded the Best Live Performance for their sell-out Croke Park gigs which had left music lovers scrabbling for tickets.
But the music talent was not the only attraction at the glitzy event as international stars of both stage and screen were on hand to present awards including Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kerry Katona, Stephen Rea, Gavin Friday, Liam Cunningham, Keith Duffy, Westlife manager Louis Walsh and former Boyzone member Stephen Gately.
Before presenting an award, Cork-born Rhys Meyers said it was not until he came home to Ireland that he realised the significance of scooping the Golden Globe for his role in the CBS mini-series Elvis.
The 28-year-old, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, said: “I was working the morning after shooting a film. It wasn’t until I came home that I really knew what it was all about.”
The actor said he was looking to buy a house to live in in Dublin as he will be filming in Ireland in the summer for a 20 million euro US Showtime drama series.
“I’m going to be playing a young Henry VIII,” he said. “It’ll be fun.”
Another presenter, Keith Duffy, joked on a possible reunion of Boyzone: “You never know if Take That can do it.”
Duffy said he did not miss Coronation Street and was looking forward to flying to Los Angeles where he had some auditions lined up.
Other guests included Divine Comedy singer Neil Hannon, lap dance impresario Peter Stringfellow and Joe Elliot.
Thousands of fans watched performances from top international and Irish acts including Sugababes, McFly, The Darkness, Westlife, Jamie Cullum, The Pogues, Bell X1, Republic of Loose, Damien Dempsey and Gemma Hayes.
There were 17 awards handed out at the event, hosted by comedian Patrick Kielty, five of which were chosen by the Irish public.
The Pogues, famed for controversial frontman Shane McGowan’s antics, were presented with the Lifetime Achievement award.
The band, who were first formed in 1982 by McGowan who is famous for his rotten teeth and hard drinking, went on to close the show with special guests The Dubliners with a rendition of ’Irish Rover’.
On his way into the event, McGowan strolled up the red carpet shouting “Irish Constitution“, before posing with The Pogues for some pictures.
“It is nice to be legend when you are still alive,” he said. “A lifetime achievement award is not part of any job really.”
Singer/songwriter Gemma Hayes was voted Best Irish Female by the public, while Damien Dempsey tucked away his third Meteor Award for Best Irish Male.
Boyband Westlife won the award for Best Irish Pop Act for the sixth year in a row, whilst Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy made it two in a row for Best Irish DJ.
Dublin band Humanzi, who have won a much-heralded record deal with a small label Fiction, owned by Polydor, took Best New Act. RTE 2FM listeners chose newcomer Laura Izabor as the Hope for 2006 Meteor Award.
Cork man John Spillane was presented with the award for Best Folk/Trad.
Britpop revivalists the Kaiser Chiefs won two Meteor awards, they were named ‘Best International Band’ and won the ‘Best International Album’ award for ‘Employment’.
The band members said: “We are very pleased – we like playing in Ireland, there is the best crowd. We are delighted to be here.” On the Best International Album category, they joked: “Who else is there, there is no competition.”
US rap star Kanye West was named ‘Best International Male’ and Gwen Stefani was named ‘Best International Female’.
Father Peter McVerry, a campaigner of young homeless people, took star place when he was presented with the €100,000 Humanitarian award. The veteran campaigner, who founded the Arrupe Society in 1983 to provide care and accommodation for homeless boys, was presented with the award for his tireless work.
Grammy Award winning Riverdance composer Bill Whelan was given the prestigious Meteor Industry award for his work in the sector as a performer, producer and composer for 26-years.
The Meteor Ireland Music Awards show will be broadcast on RTE2 at 9pm on Sunday, February 5.
Winners of the 2006 Meteor Ireland Music Awards:
Best Irish Female: Gemma Hayes
Best Irish Male: Damien Dempsey
Best Irish Pop Act: Westlife
Best Irish Band : U2
Best Irish Album: U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Best Live Performance : U2 – Croke Park
Best Folk/Trad: John Spillane
Best Irish New Act: Humanzi
Best Irish DJ: Ray D’Arcy
Best International Album: Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
Best International Band: Kaiser Chiefs
Best International Male: Kanye West
Best International Female: Gwen Stefani
RTE 2fm Hope for 2006: Laura Izibor
Lifetime Achievement Award : The Pogues
Industry Award: Bill Whelan
The Humanitarian Award: Fr Peter McVerry