If the Brit Awards involve handing out the gongs to the great and good of the music industry, the performances are just as crucial to the success of the night, and organisers really pulled it out of the bag on this front last night.
Adele, the queen of the night with two major awards - for Best British Female Solo Artist and for Best British Album - brought her freshly-repaired voice home with her from the US, where she had brought the house down at the Grammys with Rolling in the Deep.
Sure enough, she hit her spot again at the Brits, awing the audience with her soulful, powerful rendition. Last year's spine-tingling Someone Like You was always going to be hard nay impossible to surpass, but this year's performance revealed a more assured performer, confident of her appeal to an audience of this size, and happily singing about a heartbreak now thankfully behind her - fantastic to see and hear.
Besides Adele, there were some hugely diverse talents on display. Coldplay opened the show, just as they did at the MTV VMA Awards in Belfast late last year. They can obviously to be relied on to set the tone in their typically ebullient fashion, and they did this again on the Brits stage.
Florence Walsh's song was a cacophony of big drums and flowing frocks, with a voice strong enough to match the theatrics. And while Simon Cowell's supposed prodigy Joe McElderry disappears more firmly from view, his X Factor runner-up Olly Murs is still happily bouncing around in his pencil-trouser suits and white co-respondents, trading on his big, smiley face and end-of-the-pier charm. Even though he's supposed by very contemporary-sounding synths, Olly Murs always looks like he’s missing his ukulele. At the Brits, he had the Rizzle Kicks to make him urban or, in James Corden’s words, "shabba-tronic".
Eddie Sheeran, nominated for four Brits, took a quieter turn, relying only on a guitar and defiantly unglamorous green T-shirt, and Noel Gallagher made his first solo appearance at the Brits. Obviously, it's all change on the personnel front for Gallagher, with his new band Little Flying Birds, but it was the same leather jacket and attitude, as he assumed vocal duties as well as guitar for a solid rocking performance.
Bruno Mars took his poptastic song Just the Way You Are, and gave it a fresh jazzy arrangement. While Tweeter David Quantick summed up the derision of many on Twitter, asking if "someone came as a spare Osmond", many others praised Mars' vocality and confidence with his soulful rendition.
Rihanna beefed things back up, bedecked in a curly yellow (not blonde) wig to belt out We Found Love. It was a spectacular arrangement, with dancers, gigantic party poppers and all, and Rihanna was in an outfit more playful than some of her previous ensembles. She contented herself with a couple of blatant bum bends, and it was great to see a woman with a teenage fanbase the size of hers relishing her curves and making it clear that eating is cool.
Finally, Blur took to the stage for their first time on the Brits stage since 1995, kicking off their 11-minute montage with Girls and Boys. This quartet may all be fathers in cardigans, but once they kicked off, Damon Albarn and his crew sounded as fresh as ever, perhaps more refreshed for the gap between visits.
The enthusiasm of Song 2 was irresistible, and they finished off with a grand version of Parklife, complete with actor Phil Daniels' instantly recognisable prose-verse accompanying Albarn all the way to the closing credits.
Adele, Rihanna and all the other stars of the Brit Awards 2012 on the red carpet:
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