The 27-year-old singer won British female solo artist, British single, British global success and the evening’s biggest prize, British album of the year, at the star-studded ceremony, held at London’s O2 arena.
“To come back after so long away and be so warmly received is really lovely. Thank you so much. And to all the other girls that are nominated, thank you for letting me be in your company. You’re all amazing,” Adele said collecting the award for best female, choosing the moment to pledge her support to U.S. singer Kesha, who is currently embroiled in a high-profile lawsuit against songwriter/producer Dr. Luke.
“I got really lost for a while and I didn’t know if I’d ever come back,” said the British singer, visibly holding back the tears during one of her many acceptance speeches.
Adele also delivered one of the night’s standout performances with a suitably stirring rendition of “When We Were Young,” which closed the show in characteristically bombastic fashion and drew the audience to its feet.
Earlier in the evening, Coldplay opened the show with a rousing rendition of “Hymn for the Weekend,” with other live highlights including a steamy performance of “Work” by Rihanna, joined by Drake, and Justin Bieber delivering a medley of his hit singles “Love Yourself” (performed in collaboration with Brit singer James Bay) and a pyrotechnic-accompanied run through “Sorry.” The Canadian singer later won the international male award, while the best international female award was collected by Bjork for a fourth time, accepting via video message.
The other other big winners of the night were Coldplay, taking home British group — an accolade that made them one of the most successful groups in Brits history, having won the same award in 2001, 2003 and 2012. Meanwhile, James Bay won British male solo artist with Australia’s Tame Impala collecting best international group and Catfish and the Bottlemen a surprise winner in the British breakthrough category.
The award for British artist video of the year — chosen by a live social vote on Twitter during the show — went to One Direction and was collected by the band’s Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne.
Outside the main awards, one of the most powerful and moving segments of a largely controversy-free two and a half hour show, broadcast live on U.K. TV station ITV and live-streamed around the world, came in the form of an understated tribute to David Bowie, who died of cancer at the start of the year.
“For me, it’s almost impossible to mention Bowie’s name in the past tense,” said Bowie’s friend and former collaborator Annie Lennox, introducing an impassioned onstage tribute. “Everything he represented as an artist was and always will be vital and incredibly present. As a cutting-edge artistic genius, he continues to live on through his music.
“As an innovative writer, performer and rock star, there was no one and nothing else like him. He was truly unique,” said Lennox, calling Bowie a “quintessential visionary” and “ultimate iconoclast.”
“The legacy of his extraordinary sound and vision will be loved and revered for as long as the earth still spins,” she went on to say.
Her heartfelt testimony was followed by a moving tribute from Bowie’s close friend Gary Oldman. “The world lost a man, an artist of transcendent talent,” said the London-born actor. “He was the very definition of that singular word: icon.”
“Over his career, David challenged and changed our understanding of the medium — whether in music or in life, he emphasized originality, experimentation, exploration, and in his very unique way, he also reminded us to never take ourselves too seriously,” stated Oldman. “I can share with you that David faced his illness with enormous courage, dignity, grace and customary humor.
“David, you were mortal, but your potential was superhuman and your remarkable music is living on. We love you and we thank you,” surmised Oldman, introducing Lorde — an artist that Bowie once described as the “future of music” — who was joined by the late artist’s touring band to deliver a spirited and suitably respectful performance of “Life on Mars?”