by Emma Saunders
BBC News Online at the Mobo Awards
It had all the ingredients of a glamorous evening - big name stars, an impressive venue and plenty of bling bling.
50 Cent was the star of the show
But this year's Mobo Awards, the UK's most prestigious ceremony recognising black music, had an oddly deflated feel.
When the nominations were announced earlier this month, it looked like it could be the year for female artists.
But R&B singer Beyonce Knowles and UK artist Terri Walker were both left empty-handed, despite receiving four nominations each.
So it was left to US rapper 50 Cent to take the headlines, scoring three out of three for best hip-hop act, best album and best single.
There were rumours he was not going to make it to the Royal Albert Hall but he eventually arrived, leaving fans at his later gig at Wembley Arena waiting for about two hours.
In the meantime, the Mobo crowd went wild for the New York rap star each time he sauntered up to the podium, surrounded by 10 scary-looking heavies with bandanas covering their faces.
Ms Dynamite won three Mobos last year
The problem was that 50 Cent received all three awards almost back-to-back in the first half hour, presumably because he had to dash off to his concert.
But when you have paraded your trump card so early in the evening, it can only go downhill from there.
Despite some energetic performances from the likes of Big Brovaz, the Black Eyed Peas and Mis-Teeq, the audience never really got into it.
The venue only appeared to be about two thirds full, which probably did not help.
Lil' Kim and Blu Cantrell were competent hosts and best when off-script but their frequent costume changes held up proceedings once too often and the crowd began to grow restless.
"It wasn't like this last year, the audience aren't up for it - they should have had UK hosts, it's supposed to be about supporting UK artists," said one fan, who regularly attends the Awards.
At £95 for a seat in the gods, she probably had a right to feel frustrated.
New mum Ms Dynamite made a surprise appearance to present the award for best UK Act with BBC Three comedy trio 3 Non-Blondes, who provided one of the few comedy moments with a deliberately dire attempt at rapping.
George Benson sang a duet with former Fame Academy contestant Lemar
Several C-list celebrities, including Page 3 model Nell McAndrew and former Brookside actress Jennifer Ellison, asked the audience if they were having a good time but received little response.
By the halfway point, the warm-up host was promising: "It will get better."
But by then, some people had already started to drift out of the auditorium, including Motown legend Diana Ross.
The speeches were short and predictable, with most people thanking God and their families.
The audience livened up to give Outstanding Achievement winners Kool and the Gang and George Benson, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, the respect they deserved.
But it seemed too little, too late.
Most ceremonies of this kind build up to the biggest awards at the end of the night but the Mobos just seemed to fizzle out as the night went on.
The final award was for Fashion Icon, which went to the "originator of bling", Lil' Kim. Hardly a musical climax.
Although there were constant attempts to "big-up" UK artists, the event seemed almost overawed by the likes of 50 Cent, as if there was a lack of belief that our own homegrown artists could not compete with US talent.
A shame, really, when rising stars such as Dizzee Rascal, Terri Walker and Floetry have all been produced in the UK.
Romeo from So Solid Crew told BBC News Online he had had a good time.
"Yeah, I enjoyed it, man. It was alright." But he did not sound convinced.
The stars were told where the after-show party was at the end of the performances.
Maybe that is where the night really takes off.