LONDON – Adele made a return to live performance and won three prizes at the Brit Awards in London on Tuesday, weeks after she canceled a much-anticipated string of shows in Las Vegas.
The north London-born diva was named artist of the year at the U.K.’s leading music prizes. She also took home the album of the year prize, for “30,” and won song of the year for “Easy on Me.”
Adele dedicated the award for “30,” an album forged from the breakup of her marriage, to her son Angelo and ex-husband Simon Konecki.
“This album was all of our journey, not just mine,” she said. “I am very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and putting an album out that was about something so personal to me because not many people do stuff like that any more.”
Adele delighted the home-town audience at London's O2 Arena, sitting on a piano in a golden gown to sing “I Drink Wine.” It was her first performance since she called off a Caesar's Palace residency at the last minute in January, citing delivery delays and coronavirus illness in her crew.
In recent years, Brits organizers have shaken up awards that had become a slick but rather bland showcase for British talent, often criticized for lacking diversity and being slow to embrace genres including British grime and hip-hop. In 2017, the academy of more than 1,000 music industry professionals that chooses Brits winners was expanded in an attempt to make it more gender balanced and diverse.
This year's ceremony included performances by two of the U.K.'s most exciting rap artists: genre-bending singer Little Simz and powerful wordsmith Dave.
Both were also winners. Little Simz was named best new artist and Dave won the prize for best hip hop or grime act. He paid tribute to other rap artists “who have suffered for years and years and years and years and broken down so many barriers in this industry.”
The Brits is one of the few awards shows not to have been canceled in the past two years because of the pandemic. The 2020 show took place weeks before Britain went into lockdown. Last year’s awards were held in May as a test run for the return of large live events with an audience of 4,000, including health care workers given free tickets.
This year thousands of music fans watched live performances from acts including Ed Sheeran, former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, rootsy singer-songwriter Sam Fender and singer Anne-Marie, who took a tumble after emerging from inside a giant onstage heart.
“Didn’t need my left ankle anyway," she tweeted afterwards.
Comedian Mo Gilligan hosted the show, and gave a shoutout to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is caught up in a scandal over lockdown-breaching wine and cheese parties in his office during the pandemic.
“I know you like a party — Come down, man," Gilligan said. "I know you like a cheeseboard.”
American teen star Olivia Rodrigo took the international song trophy for “Good 4 U,” and Billie Eilish was named best international artist. London alternative band Wolf Alice won the group of the year prize, while superduo Silk Sonic was named international group of the year. Sheeran took Brit Award for best songwriter.
British singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone took the rising star award, an accolade previously won by Adele and Florence + the Machine.
The 2022 ceremony also included four new awards for different genres, decided by public vote. Dua Lipa was named pop/R’n’B act, the prize for alternative/rock went to Sam Fender and Becky Hill was named best dance act.
Dave took the hip hop prize, and was joined onstage by five other rappers as he closed the show with his song “In the Fire.”
In November, organizers announced they were scrapping separate male and female artist categories for the awards. Organizers said the change would celebrate artists “solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them.”
Accepting her artist of the year trophy, Adele said she understood the reasons for the change, but added: "I really love being a woman and being a female artist. I do. I am really proud of us.”