With regular visits to the winners’ podium and a live performance, Adele was the undoubted star of the O2 Arena show, despite spectacular performances from Rihanna and an “understated” tribute to David Bowie, featuring the late star’s touring band.
However the Brit Awards organisers admitted that radical action is needed to inject greater diversity into the music industry showcase, which gave awards to Coldplay, James Bay and Justin Bieber but failed to recognise any black artists in its major categories.
Among the surprises was a resurgence in indie-rock with Catfish and the Bottlemen, the Welsh band led by Van McCann, which has built a devoted following through relentless gigging, winning in the Breakthrough category. The group, a festivals favourite, beat pop chart-topper Jess Glynne and James Bay in a public vote.
Tame Impala, the Australian psychedelic rock band which incorporated electro and R&B influences into its latest album Lonerism, took the International Group prize, beating Eagles of Death Metal, the band targeted in the Paris terrorist shootings.
Coldplay became the most successful band in Brits history, taking their career wins to nine when the quartet accepted the British Group award which they first won in 2001.
However night belonged to Adele, whose long-awaited 25 album, which has sold 15m copies worldwide since its November release, was judged the year’s best.
There was no posthumous British Female award for Amy Winehouse, with Adele triumphing in that category and taking Best Single for "Hello", the trembling ballad which announced her return.
The Global Success award, given to the UK artist who has racked up the most international sales, was a walkover – 25 has sold 8m copies in the US alone.
For the 27 year-old, it was a poignant return to the O2 Arena. It was Adele’s emotional performance of Someone Like You at the 2011 Brit Awards which propelled the singer to international chart dominance.