Scandal-free evening comes to life when the chainsaw starts up

The Brits | Earls Court, London
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The Independent Culture

Scandal is what everybody wants at the Brits but, after the antics of Jarvis Cocker three years ago, it really never happens. Despite the efforts of this year's comperes, Ant & Dec, there was nothing to spice up the proceedings beyond the inevitable swearing on stage.

Scandal is what everybody wants at the Brits but, after the antics of Jarvis Cocker three years ago, it really never happens. Despite the efforts of this year's comperes, Ant & Dec, there was nothing to spice up the proceedings beyond the inevitable swearing on stage.

At least the canned applause was dispensed with this year. The increased number of competition winners - or music fans, as they were once known - made enough noise to counter the restless chit-chat behind them.

An over-made-up Robbie Williams opened the awards with a perfectly acceptable version of "Rock DJ'', though his pledge not to say something stupid this year made it one of the evening's less thrilling moments. He even managed to be up-staged by the sartorially challenged Geri Halliwell.

The biggest scandal of the evening was Craig David's failure to pick up a gong, despite being nominated six times. Even he couldn't resist alluding to this extraordinary situation half-way through a brilliant performance of "Fill Me In''. He first thanked his fans and then smilingly concluded: "Six nominations, no Brit this evening.'' Not surprisingly, he got the biggest cheer of the night.

The appearance of Popstars, now absurdly known as Hear'Say, succeeded in raising a few eyebrows. Performing their debut single "Pure and Simple'' they brought no less than 14 backing singers on stage with them - and, believe me, they needed them. The song was blander than anything that A1 could have come up with while their choreography was shamelessly ripped off from All Saints.

Matters were somewhat salvaged by Westlife who revealed an unexpected ability to see their ridiculous side. A cover of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" came complete with camp biker theatrics and plenty of side-slapping to keep the girls at the front hot under the collar.

Coldplay's Chris Martin swore repeatedly as he accepted his prize though the band's performance of "Trouble'' was wholesome enough to redeem them. Sonique, having coarsely thanked her lawyer and her accountant as she picked up the Best Newcomer Award, proceeded to do an astoundingly dull version of her hit "Feel So Good''.

In the end it was up to Eminem to steal the show. Reprising the much-maligned chainsaw routine from his recent show he performed a truly explosive version of "The Real Slim Shady'', with added gunfire. In the end he even got a hug from Elton John for his trouble.

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