22/02/2012 02:46 GMT | Updated 22/04/2012 06:12 BST

Brit Awards 2012: Blur Return After 17 Years Away To Accept Outstanding Contribution Award

The Brits Outstanding Contribution to Music Award isn't handed out every year, only when an artist is considered deserving. Previous recipients include David Bowie, Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and Queen.

Last night it was Blur's turn to take to the stage, to accept the accolade from the very British Ray Winstone.

The quartet - singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree - last appeared at the Brits 17 years ago, when they broke records by collecting four awards. However, despite that triumph, as well as 'winning' the chart war with 'rivals' Oasis in 1995, they hadn' returned in the intervening period, preferring to head in a less poppy direction and focusing on solo projects too,such as Albarn's celebrated Gorillaz.

Their fans have stayed with them, however - when tickets for their 2010 reunion concert at Hyde Park were released, they sold out in two minutes.

Collecting the award, Albarn looked back on his last visit to the Brits 17 years before, an evening, he remembered, that "had a profound effect on our lives".

The band then closed the show with an 11-minute montage of their songs Girls and Boys, Song 2 and the instantly recognisable Parklife.