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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 02:33 GMT
Stars on song for Brit Award show
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

With a legend's performance from Sir Paul McCartney, an on-song Amy Winehouse and the Arctic Monkeys dressed as country gents, the 2008 Brit Awards ceremony was one of the most entertaining in years.
Sir Paul McCartney at the Brit Awards
Sir Paul McCartney got a standing ovation from the Brits crowd

In the pantheon of British music, they do not come much bigger than Sir Paul McCartney.

Until his performance at the end of this year's Brit Awards, the annual back-slapping ceremony was a mindlessly enjoyable, visually spectacular and mildly chaotic affair.

But when the former Beatle stepped up to collect his lifetime achievement award, it was a real event.

He ignored the contests for most outrageous set, dance routine and outfit that had taken place alongside the real award battles all night.

His was an old school performance - but it created the most excitement of the night in the aircraft hangar that is Earl's Court.

It takes a lot to get the record company suits - who were sitting on the tables covering most of the arena - to stand on their chairs and wave their arms in the air, but Macca managed it.

He started his career medley by playing the mandolin to recent solo song Dance Tonight, but the crowd forgave him when he then launched into Live and Let Die before starting a sing-a-long that filled the whole hall during Hey Jude.

Amy Winehouse at the Brit Awards
Amy Winehouse mouthed "I love you" to her husband
Amy on stageIt also takes something special to eclipse Amy Winehouse these days, but he managed that too.

Making up for lost time after cancelled gigs and a spell in rehab, Winehouse appeared to be back on form and performed two songs.

In her first, singing Valerie with Mark Ronson, it took her a few bars, shimmies and tousles of hair to hit her stride.

In her second, Love Is A Losing Game, she hitched up her skirt, looked longingly into the camera and gently gyrated in front of the microphone stand - delivering a personal show for her jailed husband.

Her request at the end to "make some noise for my husband, my Blake", though, fell largely on deaf ears.

But despite the diversion of her personal problems, Winehouse provided a reminder of her true talent.

The jazzy, unpredictable vocal journeys, the power and pain in her voice, the air of effortless artistry and enigma made all the night's other singers seem quite plain by comparison.

Kylie Minogue at the Brit Awards
Kylie Minogue was backed by futuristic dancers on stage
The other Brit performances were more notable for their dazzling sets and routines.

The Kaiser Chiefs performed Ruby as rock 'n' roll Godzillas amid miniature Manhattan skyscrapers.

Mika had several theatrical backdrops - one of which disgorged The Gossip's Beth Ditto, bedecked like a gaudy doll with a giant pink bow, for a duet on Standing In The Way Of Control.

Rihanna appeared in a hooded cloak on a platform above her collaborators Klaxons, who were wearing primitive sci-fi-style costumes, as if they were all part of a post-apocalyptic pagan pop cult.

Unfortunately their duet of Umbrella sounded less interesting than it looked.

Best international female winner Kylie, meanwhile, was her usual glamorous, gracious self, backed by a troupe of shiny, bright motorcycle couriers - or they could have been dancing robots.

Arctic Monkeys at the Brit Awards
The Arctic Monkeys blew a hunting horn to celebrate their first win
Double winners the Arctic Monkeys were among the other stars of the night, but they did not perform.

Instead, they were shambolic and sarcastic on accepting their trophies dressed as country gents with tweed breeches, flat caps and pipes.

On winning their first prize, barely coherent singer Alex Turner told the crowd: "Thank you everybody, we are the Arctic Monkeys and we are the most fantastic," before giving a blast of his hunting horn.

While the stars were good value, the hosts and presenters provided the most embarrassing moments.

Attempted jokes by Chris Moyles and Vic Reeves, who were among those handing out awards, fell flat, while exchanges between Denise Van Outen and Andrew Lloyd Webber were horribly hammy.

Osbourne family at the Brit Awards
The Osbourne family shared the ceremony's hosting duties
Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne were billed as the event's hosts, but in the end Ozzy only appeared a few times - presumably being either too likely to wear out ITV's bleep button or too incapable of stringing a sentence together.

Ozzy's main contribution was introducing "Mr Sir Paul McCartney" several minutes early.

The rest was a family affair, with daughter Kelly helping Sharon fluff the introductions.

It was not the most slick ceremony - but organisers will not have minded things being, shall we say, edgy.

The most slick shows are also often the most dull.

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