LONDON — Adele was the runaway winner at the 2022 Brit Awards, taking home prizes for artist, song and album of the year. But there were also plenty of other big standout moments at Tuesday’s (Feb. 8) star-studded show, including stirring performances by Ed Sheeran and an explosive pyrotechnic-accompanied finale by London rapper Dave.
This year was the 42nd edition of the U.K.’s biggest music awards show, held at London’s The O2 arena, and was the ceremony’s first year without gendered categories. As with previous Brit Awards, the entire two-hour show was broadcast live on British TV and streamed globally on YouTube, but there was just as much going on behind the scenes as there was in front of the cameras.
Here are a few of the best moments you (possibly) didn’t see on television.
London Love for Adele
After a tough couple of weeks that saw the London-born singer postpone her Las Vegas residency, Adele made a triumphant return to home turf at the 2022 Brit Awards, winning the night’s three biggest prizes and bringing her overall Brits’ haul to 12 trophies (one shy of record holder Robbie Williams, who has 13).
“I can’t believe that a piano ballad won against that many bangers,” said Adele while collecting the song of the year award for “Easy on Me.” Her gratitude was reciprocated by the 20,000-strong audience inside The O2, whose love for the singer could be heard throughout the venue every time she appeared at the podium.
Adele’s spine-tingling performance of “I Drink Wine” was one of the night’s live highlights, and received a thunderous round of applause from the audience, which included several hundred pupils from The Brit School in Croydon, which Adele herself attended as a teenager.
Between acceptance speeches and performing on stage, the singer stayed seated at a table at the front of the arena floor alongside her long-time manager Jonathan Dickins. Accepting the best album award for 30, Adele dedicated the award to her 9-year-old son, Angelo, and ex-husband Simon Konecki. “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 anymore,” said a visibly moved Adele.
Anne-Marie’s Reaction to Her Onstage Stumble
Following in the misplaced footsteps of Madonna, who memorably fell offstage at the 2015 Brit Awards, British pop star Anne-Marie delivered one of the night’s most talked about moments when she slipped while walking down steps during her performance of “Don’t Play” with rapper KSI and Digital Farm Animals. To the singer’s credit, she immediately picked herself up and, although clearly shaken, continued the song, barely missing a note. Within minutes of her fall, a Twitter account called Anne-Marie’s Ankle was created, which the artist retweeted to her 1.1 million followers.
And after the show, Anne-Marie tweeted, “Didn’t need my left ankle anyway.” British opticians chain Specsavers subsequently messaged her, offering a free eye test. “I’ll be in touch,” responded the singer, showing that she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Didn’t need my left ankle anyway
— 🖤ANNE-MARIE🖤 (@AnneMarie) February 8, 2022
Host Mo Gilligan Drops the F-Bomb
Amid all the awards excitement and live performances, it was easy to miss host Mo Gilligan swearing live on air: The comedian dropped the F-bomb during his impression of former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher. The blunder happened just before an ad break and before the 9 p.m. U.K. watershed – the cutoff point for when strong language and adult content is allowed to be shown on British TV.
Although viewers at home and on social media were quick to notice, many people inside The O2 didn’t realize the slip until later in the show, when Gilligan sat down with Olivia Rodrigo and Maya Jama and apologized. “I got a little bit carried away and swore. Apologies for any offense caused. I lost myself,” he said.
Ed Sheeran’s Electric Blue Velvet Suit
As the biggest night on the U.K. music calendar, the Brit Awards is always a glitzy, star-studded affair, and this year’s red carpet didn’t disappoint. Among those donning their finest was Ed Sheeran, who arrived at The O2 wearing an electric blue velvet suit that evoked memories of Austin Powers.
Other stars who turned heads were Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, wearing a revealing cutout dress, Joy Crookes in an ornate gold outfit, rapper Little Simz, dressed in a long, black leather trench coat, and Italian rock band Maneskin kitted out in a characteristically flamboyant mix of latex, pink frills and ruffles.
At the opposite end of the sartorial spectrum, Adele opted for old-school glamour for her much-anticipated appearance, wearing an elegant figure-hugging black gown. The presence of a huge diamond ring on her left hand has inevitably sparked fan speculation that the 33-year-old singer may be engaged to sports agent Rich Paul, whom she’s been dating since 2021.
After 2021’s scaled-back Brit Awards when COVID-19 restrictions meant that Coldplay, The Weeknd and Elton John performed virtually, this year’s show saw the welcome return of live performances taking place exclusively inside The O2 arena, creating a palpable sense of occasion inside the packed 20,000-capacity venue. Despite the recent removal of almost all coronavirus restrictions in the United Kingdom, several safety protocols remained in place for this year’s event, with all attendees required to take a lateral flow test and present proof of their negative status to gain entry.
Artists, touring crews and production staff were also required to regularly test themselves for coronavirus in the run up to the Brits, with sanitizing gel dispensers placed throughout The O2 to help protect staff and visitors. On Jan. 31, Doja Cat — nominated in the international artist of the year and best international song categories – was forced to pull out of performing at the Brits after members of her crew tested positive for COVID-19, leaving an all-British lineup of live artists.
Watching on inside The O2 was the regular mix of ticket holders, excitable Brit school students and industry executives, with the latter packing out the corporate boxes that circle the venue over two floors. The 30 or so arena floor tables next to the stage were reserved exclusively for artists and their entourages.