Emerson, Lake & Palmer's 'Fanfare For The Common Man' bounces resonantly around the ballroom of the Park Lane Hotel, reducing to a low murmur the anticipation felt by everyone from Tony Blair MP, Eric Clapton OBE and David Bowie to Louise Wener, Mr and Mrs Eavis and Richard Curtis.
Buh-buh bah! Buh-buh bah!
Chris Evans, who's also here, announced on his Radio One breakfast show this morning that this is 'Q Awards Day!', as if perhaps it's a national holiday and an event beamed live into every living room in Britain, rather than just a quiet, star-studded lunch whose highlights get seen on VH-1. I mean, who gets VH-1? Neil and Tim Finn of Crowded House have already serenaded the throng with a couple of acoustic numbers, the younger sibling noting, 'It's a bit like a wedding really, isn't it?'
Buh-buh bah! Bah-bah-buh!
As the horns give way to ELP's chugging riff, the stage is mounted by Danny Kelly and Mark Ellen, all the better to manfully host the Q Awards 1995: founding editor and managing editor. Two heavyweights, one literally. Both in suitably sombre dark suits, one in 'soft' grey polo shirt, the other sporting a psychedelic print number that suggests he never came back from the Isle Of Wight. These are the fathers of the bride.
Unlike other award ceremonies, Q's is mercifully brief: just nine gongs handed out with minimum fuss and maximum star wattage. Supergrass are rendered incoherent and speechless by their award for Best New Act; Tricky likewise for Best Producer. Best Album brings the first couldn't-be-here-this-afternoon apology, at which, with pantomimic gusto, Danny lobs a Q award in the direction of the big video screen beside the podium. What reckless endangerment is this?
The lights dim on cue. The Q award appears, mid-air … in Paris! And I catch it. What larks! A week ago I was dispatched to France to present Blur, currently on a European tour, with the Best Album award for The Great Escape. The matey presentation was captured, by our pals at VH-1, at a club venue called the Bataclan, before soundcheck. The short film begins, of course, with me catching a Q award. But it's more meaningful than a half-arsed attempt at movie magic. It's Danny handing over the reins of power.
How do you feel about Q as an institution, I ask Blur.
'I'm more of a Smash Hits man, myself,' answers Alex from beneath that canopy of a fringe.