As expected after their Grammy win and banner year, Arcade Fire took home the most Juno Awards in Toronto over the weekend, in part of a 40th anniversary celebration of the Canadian awards show that included Shania Twain, Neil Young and many others, with Drake as host.
Thirty-two awards were given out at the private Saturday gala dinner, including the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Awards to EMI Music Canada's long-serving president Deane Cameron. The remaining eight awards, plus two special honors to Twain and Young, were awarded on the televised performance-packed show on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre which sold tickets to the public.
"We're so happy," said the band's Win Butler, as the Montreal ensemble took the stage to collect best group. "I want to just give a shout-out to all the bands that we kind of came up with, from Royal City to Hidden Cameras to the Unicorns to Wolf Parade and all the amazing Canadian bands, thank you so much. We're so honored."
They also won the best album, alternative album (for "The Suburbs") and songwriter awards. For best album, the group beat out Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0," Drake's "Thank Me Later," Hedley's "The Show Must Go On," and Johnny Reid's "A Place Called Love."
Reverent shout-outs were given time and again to Young by presenters and winners onstage and backstage, including Arcade Fire and Billy Talent. The Canadian icon had not attended the Juno Awards in 29 years, but this year took home adult alternative album (for the Daniel Lanois-produced "Le Noise") and artist of the year, as well as the previously determined Allan Waters Humanitarian Award presented by Lanois.
"What year is this?" Young asked when he won for best artist, a category that included Bieber, Drake, Sarah McLachlan and Johnny Reid. "Man, I am totally surprised. Arcade Fire, what a great performance that was, what a great group; Justin Bieber, what can you say? The artists are all wonderful; it's just totally incomprehensible that I'm here but it's a great honor."
Apart from Arcade Fire and Young, Bieber -- who did not attend -- was the only other artist to collect more than one award, nabbing fan choice award and best pop album ("My World 2.0").
Drake, 24, the youngest person ever to host the show, proved a solid emcee, with equal amounts of respect, well-timed jokes and pre-planned bits. In an opening segment, he talked with his buddy Bieber, who was in Rotterdam, and ended up singing a sentimental duet of Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You." In another bit, he tried to woo Twain with a ditty that ended with the line "I'm dying to make you feel like a woman, baby," as she sat laughing, husband Frederic Thiebaud by her side.
Twain, who has sold 75 million albums worldwide, was later inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by Bryan Adams. Tearing up as she took the stage, she declared, "I really am turning into such a sap. 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 new artists up here on the stage ... they are just blowing me away.
"I have more pride in what the country has created musically than I am even of my own success. This is a beautiful country. I feel like I should just be wearing the Canadian flag tonight. I want to just say, I love our lakes, I love our bush, and, most of all, I love our people." (Later backstage, she defended her use of the word "bush" to describe where she grew up, and laughingly conceded she would say Canadian "forest" instead).
At the Saturday night gala, of the 32 awards that covered all musical genres from rock to jazz to classical, Lanois won for best producer for Young's "Le Noise," multiple nominees Broken Social Scene took its only award of the weekend for recording package, and Shad for rap recording ("TSOL"), surprising many who expected Drake to take the honor.
Drake, who had a leading six nominations, ultimately not win any -- but he did go home as one of the best hosts the Junos have ever had.
For a full list of winners, go to www.junoawards.ca.