Christmas was over. I was four weeks into the new semester when one day a friend of mine oh-so-casually mentioned on Facebook that she’d won tickets to the Brits – as you do – and wanted to know if anyone wanted to go with her. Mid-month, things were a little tight, and it was slap-bang in the middle of reading week, but this was the BRITS!
Two weeks, one 10 hour bus journey and an Airbnb later, we had arrived in London. On Wednesday, with our heels and gladrags on (strictly formal/cocktail wear only), we took the Emirates cable car across the Thames to the 02 Arena.
Kicking off the evening was Little Mix, who were carried in on star-spangled thrones, and how can you go wrong with silver body-cons and thigh high boots? Sadly, I took the ‘no photography equipment’ rule a little too literally for this act, but rest assured, when I saw everyone else whipping their phones out, I could take some pictures exclusively for Brig.
The highlight for me was when Michael C Hall accepted the award for British Male Solo artist on behalf of David Bowie. As a HUGE fan of both Dexter and the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, in which Hall featured in the Broadway revival, this was too much for me. Tears ran down my face smudging my mascara and my hands shook as I captured the moment forever on my phone. At the time I couldn’t work out the connection between Hall and Bowie, but I later found out that he was starring in Bowie’s self-written musical Lazurus as a follow up to the 1976 film The Man Who Fell From Earth. The combination was beyond perfect.
While I wouldn’t go right to calling myself an Ed Sheeran fan, next to Katy Perry he was my favourite performance at the Brits. And I downloaded ‘Shape of You’, from Sheeran’s new album Divide, as it was the only song that seemed to be stuck in my head for the rest of the week. ‘Shape of You’, now playing in shopping centres and radio stations everywhere, was performed in a mash up with ‘Castle on the Hill’ and featured UK rapper Stormzy.
Even from where I was sitting I could feel the heat from the pyrotechnic display. There’s nothing like fire to give a performance the WOW factor.
Katy Perry’s performance of ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ with dancing white houses and Trump/May skeletons was arguably the best visual performance of the evening. Far too taken in by the lights and puppetry, I didn’t even realise it was a political statement until my dad pointed out to me the next day.
Perry has been a pro-active Clinton supporter on Twitter and Instagram throughout the Presidential Election and, not to be defeated by the unfortunate turn of events from November, she used the stage and the performance as her political voice. However, it seemed to be out-shone by the déjà vu left-shark incident when one of the white houses fell off the stage.
It was the tribute that got everyone talking — did Chris Martin do George Michael justice in his duet/tribute? After tear-to-a-glass-eye speeches from former band-mates Andrew Ridgeley, Pepsie and Shirlie, which left me holding onto my friend’s hand, personally I didn’t find Martin’s tribute particularly memorable, but friends who are Coldplay fans insist it was. I was more captivated by the millennial equivalent of lighters in the air where tiny flashlights from mobile phones were like fireflies in the arena.
A better collaboration was the Brits exclusive – Coldplay and the Chainsmokers’ song ‘Something Just Like This’. It wasn’t quite their hit ‘Closer’ but it did seem like a Coldplay redemption — and this was another tune that I downloaded later.
Performances that deserve an honourable mention:
Bruno Mars with ‘That’s What I Like’
The 1975 – winner of Best British Group – performing ‘The Sound’.
Robbie Williams looking very smug with dominatrix-like dancers, but if I had 80 Brit Awards under my name (including the prestigious Global Icon Award 2017) I guess I’d be pretty smug too.
He performed a mix of ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’, ‘Love My Life’ and ‘Mixed Signals’.
And I’ll let you into a secret – after the cameras stopped rolling, the Brits audience were given an extra special treat – a live performance of the 2002 hit ‘Feel’. There were some microphone issues and we could only hear the song half way though the performance, but rest-assured there was plenty of belated harmonising.
From someone who wasn’t really a British music fan (and some may argue the experience was wasted on me as I had to Google who might be there!) it gave this writer a new appreciation for current British music.