Brit Awards: Verdict on the 'new' show

Take That perform at the Brits Take That opened the first Brits ceremony at London's O2 Arena

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The Brit Awards, held at London's O2 Arena for the first time, came with the promise of a revamped ceremony.

In a novel move, reporters were invited to join musical talent and the industry's great and good at tables on the floor of the venue, close to all the action of the big night.

But from the performances to the acceptance speeches and beyond, just how did the "new" Brits shape up?

The presenter

Comic actor James Corden was charged with hosting the first Brit Awards from its new venue, and said before the show that his style would be "warm and sensitive" and nothing like Ricky Gervais's acerbic performance at the Golden Globes.

James Corden

He was in slick, smartly-dressed and in professional mode even when the cameras were not turned on him, saying the event was "all about the music".

The only running gag he indulged in during the show was at the expense of teen singer and Brit winner Justin Bieber, but otherwise the funnyman was absent.

The ceremony may have succeeded in shaking off the ghosts of some of its more embarrassing hosts of years gone by, but the feeling on the floor was that Corden was just too well-oiled and lacked spark.

The performances

Plan B perform at the Brits

Best British group winners Take That got the show off to a spectacular start with a performance featuring riot police and ending with a burst of semi-nakedness.

Rihanna's colourful medley of songs, meanwhile, was decidedly tame compared to her recent performance on The X Factor.

The riot squad returned for Plan B's moment in the spotlight and ended with a man doused in fire.

While the O2 has ample capacity for pyrotechnics and casts of thousands in Brit performances, the simplicity of Adele's song - just a flawless live vocal accompanied by piano - had guests on their feet in appreciation.

The speeches

Acceptance speeches are where awards ceremonies broadcast live on television can come apart, but nothing seemed to veer off the script at this event, apart from a very pregnant pause when Tinie Tempah came to accept his second Brit gong.


Take That's Mark Owen publicly thanked his "mate" Robbie Williams for rejoining the band, while unexpected best British female winner Laura Marling felt the need to introduce herself to the hall.

Global superstar Rihanna seemed genuinely thrilled to win her award, and proclaimed: "It doesn't get much better than the Brits".

All the winners seemed popular with the crowd, although a small element of the audience booed when Justin Bieber took best international breakthrough.

At the podium this year, no-one let slip an expletive or got into a ruck, while there certainly wasn't a repeat of Helena Bonham-Carter's rambling yet endearing Baftas speech of Sunday night.

The revamped ceremony

This year's organisers decided to dump the lifetime achievement award category and give prime position to best album of the year, making it the final and climactic Brit award to be announced at the ceremony.

Take That or Tinie Tempah were heavily tipped to walk off with the honour, but there was surprise around the floor when folk rocksters Mumford and Sons were announced as the winners.

Whether it was the most significant of the night is another matter.

The venue

The O2 Arena has taken over from Earl's Court as the spiritual home of the Brits. The cavernous venue can fit in 125 tables for floor guests and acres of seating for thousands of other spectators, stretching up into the roof.

Performances and the business of handing out awards took place on the music venue's showcase stage, with a lengthy catwalk stage creating extra reach for those outlandish performances.

The sound quality in the hall was great, the atmosphere electric. It's a fair bet that the Brits will become a regular fixture here in years to come.

The overall verdict

The refreshed Brits was a slick, sophisticated and very well-polished product which had practically none of the headline-grabbing gaffes and antics of the past.

The live performances matched the size of its new home, while the awards themselves had just a couple of surprises thrown into the mix.

Music was the toast of the night at the new show, but there was some yearning for the rougher edges of the past.

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