Glitz at the Brits: The Darkness prove that glam rocks with a treble success

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The Independent Culture

It was a night of glamour, glitter and skimpy lycra outfits at the Brits last night ­ and that was just Justin Hawkins, lead singer of the Darkness, which walked off with the lion's share of the awards.

The Suffolk glam rockers gave a power-chord for British rock by claiming three trophies, including the best British album award for Permission to Land. Their success was a shot in the arm for an awards ceremony that had come under fire for featuring too many American stars and bland pop acts.

Hawkins stayed in rock star mode as he collected the prize for best British group from Martin Kemp, the Spandau Ballet star and soap actor. "I have to say we probably are the best British group," he said. As the band returned to the stage to pick up the gong for best British rock act, Hawkins gave thanks to "our collective parents for bestowing on us the gift of rock".

The claim was ably demonstrated by a storming performance of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" which ended with Hawkins standing on a 20ft high glittering tower as the rest of the band played before a backdrop of a shark-filled aquarium on a stage strewn with statues of unicorns and classical columns. After accepting the best album prize ­ "This is the award that we were all secretly wishing for" ­ they closed the show with their first single "Growing on Me".

It has been an extraordinary year for the Darkness. Although they narrowly missed out on the Mercury Music Prize, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" went to number one, as did Permission to Land.

The other major winners were Dido, Busted and Justin Timberlake, who each collected two awards. Dido, the Islington singer who has taken America by storm, was named as best British female solo artist and won best British single for "White Flag". She chose not to attend the event, but said thank you by video.

Timberlake, who had never won a Brit, was named best international male solo artist and won best international album for Justified. The other great performance of the night came from Beyoncé Knowles, who appeared in a white customised Roberto Cavalli number and dripping with £250,000 of diamonds. Beyoncé later collected the award for best international female solo artist.

A crowd of 5,000 people filled the venue in Earls Court, west London, where alcohol was again available after the griping that followed a booze ban last year. The awards, most of which are voted for by an "academy" of 12,000 music industry representatives, have been criticised for their lack of relevance. Alex James, the guitarist with Blur, last week criticised the event's sterile atmosphere, and the London singer Lisa Maffia moaned that the awards were dominated by American artists.

The Californian rap group Black Eyed Peas opened the show last night, and were followed by leading US acts such as 50 Cent, Beyoncé, OutKast and Missy Elliott.

Aside from the Darkness and Muse, the only British performances were a Duran Duran medley, and cover versions of punk-era classics by the jazz pianist Jamie Cullum and the pop act Busted. Duran Duran were given an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music after a career spanning 25 years. Several American stars also flew in to present the awards, most notably Scarlett Johansson, fresh from winning the best actress award at Sunday's Baftas.

THE WINNERS

British male solo artist: Daniel Bedingfield

British female solo artist: Dido

Mastercard British Album: The Darkness- Permission to Land

British group: The Darkness

British single: Dido - White Flag

British rock act: The Darkness

British urban act: Lemar

British dance act: Basement Jaxx

British breakthrough artist: Busted

International male solo artist: Justin Timberlake

International female solo artist: Beyoncé

International album: Justin Timberlake Justified

International group: White Stripes

International breakthrough artist: 50 Cent

Pop act: Busted

Outstanding contribution to music award: Duran Duran

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