From Diamond Dining to the biggest winners, Tempus takes on the VIP BRITs experience
Follow us through the BRIT Awards from start to finish as we experience the biggest night in music
London’s The O2 Arena opened its doors to the biggest night in music on Wednesday as the BRIT Awards returned for its 38th year – promising glitz, glamour and world class performances as the biggest stars of the music industry prepared to hit the stage and collect their awards. Dua Lipa and Stormzy proved to be the night's biggest winners, scooping two awards each. But Justin Timberlake emerged victorious as the crowd's favourite performer, opening the show in style with a stripped back performance of his latest hits.
For the evening's lucky VIP guests, the party started much earlier – and in spectacular style – at the adjacent InterContinental Hotel - London O2. Tempus, as the headline partner of the BRITs Official Aftershow Party, was on hand to experience the exquisite Diamond Dining package ourselves, joining high net worth guests and celebrities including Pixie Lott and Paul Sculfor for a three-course meal and exclusive performances before the show began.
With an acrobatic fire-show from The Fuel Girls, guests were treated to far more than dinner theatre, but the real highlight was a headline performance from Critics Choice Award Winner Jorja Smith. Speaking to Tempus ahead of her performance, Smith said: "I feel more excitement than nerves. Just think of how much fun I'll have performing my songs!"
Her enjoyment certainly shone through, warming guests up for the main event with charm and ease. Soon enough, it was time to take our VIP seats in The O2 Arena. We were situated on a table with a perfect view of the stage – as well as nearby celebrity guests including Liam Payne and Cheryl Cole – as host Jack Whitehall performed a hilarious opening skit with comedy rapper Big Shaq.
His first time hosting the BRIT awards, Whitehalls took on the mantle seamlessly and with his trademark humour. He pointed out some of the nominees and guests in the audience – including the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and Little Mix – before launching into the nominations with witty one-liners in each link, describing Rag'n'Bone Man as having "the voice of an angel and the beard of a wizard". >>
Big winners on the night included Stormzy, who won Best British Male and Album of the Year for his debut album, Gang Signs and Prayer. Accepting his award, designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor, Stormzy said: "As always I give all the glory to God. I thank my mum and my whole family," before addressing his fans: "Trust me, we've done it. I've given my entire being. I've made something I can stand by today. I love you, thank you."
Stormzy beat his close friend and collaborator Ed Sheeran to both awards, but the Castle on a Hill singer accepted defeat gracefully as he was presented his own Global Success Award. The award was presented by Sir Elton John via video message, in which he joked "I was delighted to hear [my song] Tiny Dancer reference on [Sheeran's] Castle on a Hill. It sent my streaming numbers through the roof!"
Dua Lipa also scooped two gongs – for British Breakthrough and Best British Female – before taking to the stage in an outstanding performance. Praising all the females who had come before her, she told the audience: "Here's to women taking over the world".
Winning Best British Group, The Gorillaz's Damon Albarn encouraged fans and attendees to keep music international in the face of Brexit, saying "This country, believe it or not, is a small little thing in a beautiful world. Don't let us become isolated. Don't let us become cut off. Considering our size we do amazing things in [the world of] music."
Finishing his speech just as Whitehall began to wrap it up, the relieved host joked with the audience, "Oh, I really didn't want this to become an Adele moment." He referred to previous year when host James Corden was forced to cut winner Adele off in the middle of her acceptance speech. >>
Performance highlights included Liam Gallagher's poignant rendition of 'Maybe' as a tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing last May, when a terrorist attack occurred at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Grande – who organised an all-star tribute concert just weeks later – was due to perform herself on the night, but had to pull out at the last minute. Fellow Mancunian and Take That star Gary Barlow introduced Gallagher, adding that the One Love concert showed "hate would never win and love would always triumph."
Sam Smith and Rag'n'Bone Man both (who won Best Single for 'Human') also gave stand out performances before The Foo Fighters took to the stage atop an on-stage chalet. International Male Solo Artist Kendrick Lamar maintained similarly extravagant staging, performing a 'work of satire' on top of a structure beneath which a dancer smashed a bright orange Lamborghini. Accepting his award, Lamar praised British fans. "I'd like to thank you all for holding me down. I'm actually on tour and there's some of the most amazing fans out here. I really appreciate this moment - I really have love for you all."
With the performances over and the awards divvied out, it was time for us to make out way back to the InterContinental Hotel – and get ready for Tempus Magazine's BRITs Official Afterparty. After a fireworks display over the Thames, guests enjoyed two floors of BRITs magic – an Anish Kapoor themed red-and-black ballroom with circus-like entertainment including fortune telling and free hugs, a pamper parlour by the Lee Stafford Hair Academy, and London Shoe Shine offering up a pamper for the feet.
Upstairs in the Penthouse, Tempus Magazine hosted a lavish exclusive second party, with BeringIce cocktails, Formula E simulators where guests could challenge racing star Mitch Evans, a tropics inspired photobooth by Vox Vanguard and a crypto casino with plenty of prizes to be won. VIP and celebrity guests parties into the small hours.