WINNIPEG - Canada’s love affair with Tegan and Sara was reaffirmed Sunday night as the duo won Junos for Group of the Year and Single of the Year for their hit song, Closer.
Add their Saturday night Pop Album of the Year award for their sixth album Heartthrob and the Quin twins became the winningest act to come out of this year’s Juno celebration.
The wins solidified Tegan and Sara’s long transformation from indie folk-rock darlings to flat-out pop stars.
“When we asked our parents if we could play music instead of going to university, they were really mad at us,” Tegan Quin said, while accepting the Group of the Year trophy. “Thanks to everybody who supported us since we were teenagers.”
And the gold-selling Harmony train kept rolling. Juno co-host Serena Ryder doubled up on her Artist of the Year win a night earlier and added Songwriter of the Year to her growing C.V.
Tugging at her falling pants, Ryder said, “I lost a bit of weight because I stopped drinking for the Junos to stay on point.”
Montreal rockers Arcade Fire won Album of the Year for their pomp and disco-dance filled fourth album, Reflektor. The band is away on tour, a bummer for fans who instead got to watch a video performance of Afterlife.
Pow-wow vocals, electric beats and turntables proved a winning mix for Ottawa’s A Tribe Called Red, who took home the award for Breakthrough Group of the Year.
An anticipated performance by Robin Thicke was cancelled, but not because of protesters who said his hit Blurred Lines is sexist and demeaning to women (or was it? Cue the conspiracy music). A news release earlier in the day confirmed Thicke had been placed on “mandatory vocal rest” and had already cancelled performances Friday and Saturday.
Thicke lost the Juno Fan Choice award Sunday to Justin Bieber. Bieber wasn’t present to accept the award, presumably because he wanted to spend a quiet night at home. His win was greeted by cheers and boos in equal measure.
Ryder, accepting her Songwriter of the Year award, stuck up for Bieber, saying, “I really think Justin Bieber is an amazing musician and deserves every part of that award because he’s been working his ass of all his life.”
Tegan and Sara came to Bieber’s defence as well.
“People just like to pile on,” Tegan told reporters. “He’s made some mistakes but Sara and I made much worse mistakes when we were teenagers but we weren’t famous ... I think it’s tacky to boo. I didn’t like that.”
Justin Bieber's Juno Fan Choice Award sits on a chair at the 2014 Juno Awards in Winnipeg March 30, 2014. Bieber did not attend the award show. REUTERS/Trevor Hagan
But enough about the awards. What about the show?
It opened cold with a mashup performance by Serena Ryder (What I Wouldn’t Do) and rapper co-host Classified (Three Feet Tall). Spirited and fun, but not greater than the sum of its parts.
Co-host Johnny Reid got the crowd on side with a shout-out to Winnipeg’s rock history and an a cappella version of You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet.
Ryder, Reid, and Classified kept things moving without too much forced hilarity.
Matt Mays, a winner a night earlier for Rock Album of the Year, delivered a driving performance of Take it on Faith.
Sarah McLachlan returned to the Juno stage to perform Beautiful Girl from her upcoming album Shine On. Breathy vocals and sensitive piano. You know, Sarah McLachlan.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield introduced Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Bachman Turner Overdrive, creators of “the friendliest ear worms in the universe.”
The night ended with a roof-raising BTO tribute that saw the hall of farmers joined onstage by Saskatoon shaggy rockers and spiritual god children The Sheepdogs, Matt Mays, Tim Hicks, and Travis Good.
It was a raucous end to a weekend that saw more than 100 acts and untold numbers of fans pack city nightclubs and bars, bringing renewed attention to this under-heralded music centre.
Next year’s Junos will be held in Hamilton.