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Best of BRITish at the O2

A string of top UK artists descended on London’s O2 Arena last night with a number of international superstars in tow for the 2012 BRIT Awards, writes Paul Watson.

Last night the crème de la crème of British and international musical talent (and One Direction) descended on London’s O2 Arena for the 2012 BRIT Awards, writes Paul Watson.

As a first-time BRIT Awards attendee, I felt a huge level of excitement upon entering the venue; and I am glad to say, come the end of the show, I was not disappointed. In fact, I was staggered. The production was super-slick – and gargantuan.

Britannia Row provided everything audio, as it has done for many years, and did an outstanding job. Two L-Acoustics K1 systems with SB28 subs were deployed: one for the ‘in the round’ stage, purpose built for Coldplay, who opened the show; and one for the main system at the end of the arena.

I’ve seen plenty of shows at the O2, some of which have been great, some not so, but every act (even Rihanna, who was the only artist that mimed) came across tremendously as the sound in the arena was excellent throughout. Stand-out performances included those from Adele and Florence & The Machine.

The majority of the wireless systems were courtesy of Sennheiser. Adele’s FOH engineer, Dave McDonald, has been with her since the beginning of her musical journey, and swears by the Sennheiser SKM 2000 microphone (with 965 head).

“When I first heard her voice, instantly I wanted to hear her through a 105 Neumann, but when I heard the [Sennheiser] 965, I just thought that was a natural progression,” he explains. “It really suits her voice; it has that ability to project it right to the back of the room, which is great.”

Adele picked up British Female Solo Artist and Best Album, but it was also a great night for Ed Sheeran, who earned himself two BRITs: British Breakthrough Act and British Male Solo Artist. Coldplay picked up their seventh BRIT – and third in 10 years for Best British Group; and Outstanding Contribution to Music went, deservedly, to Blur. Despite Damon Albarn’s ten-minute monologue on the history of the band – sorry, thank-you speech – it was great to see them back on the big stage, as clumsy as it may have been in parts.

Show host James Corden did a fair job at presenting the awards, I suppose, but wouldn’t it be nice to see someone with some musical integrity present it? Jools Holland, for example? I can’t see him scrambling up to Adele after the little voice in his earpiece ordered him to ‘get her off, Blur are coming on’ during her acceptance speech for the most prestigious award of the night. After relieving the Grammys of six gongs last week, she has, in her own words, “flown the flag” on behalf of the UK music scene; and that’s how we reward her? What a disgrace.

Understandably, Adele’s reaction was to oblige accordingly, storming off, leaving the cocky Gavin and Stacey ‘comic’ staring at her middle finger with a dejected look on his face.

Proud to be British? You bet.