Eccentric singer Lady Gaga may have stolen the show with a hat-trick of statuettes at the 30th Brit Awards but all eyes were on Cheryl Cole, who appeared without her wedding ring.
Cole, whose footballer husband Ashley is at the centre of lurid newspaper allegations, gave a slightly chaotic performance of her hit song Fight For This Love when she faced the crowds last night.
The star, who has maintained a dignified silence amid intense media interest in her marriage, received strong applause and said simply: "Thank you, thank you."
After her performance, host Peter Kay quipped: "Fight For This Love, never a truer word spoken."
The song, in which Cole performed a change halfway through, stripping off a white coat and sunglasses before returning to continue her performance in a black sparkly hooded leotard and baseball cap, has been interpreted as a stark message to her husband.
Over the past few days the England and Chelsea player has faced a plethora of newspaper reports about his private life.
His 26-year-old wife had previously been pictured minus her wedding ring following reports about her husband.
But the defiant star insisted on that occasion that the decision was "a fashion statement" rather than a reflection of the status of her marriage.
Meanwhile, when it came to the raucous show itself, Lady Gaga received her fair share of attention.
The New Yorker won all three trophies for which she was nominated - best international female solo artist, best international breakthrough act and best international album.
She arrived at the London ceremony last night wearing a three-tiered white dress and a tall white wig, was moved to tears by her awards and dedicated the night to fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who died last week.
The expletive-laden event saw British singer Lily Allen court controversy by landing on stage astride a replica bomb to the sound of air raid sirens.
After being named best British female, she swore as a horn sounded from beyond the stage during her acceptance speech.
Dizzee Rascal was named best British male, telling the audience: "It's about time as well", as he collected his award. Fellow rapper Jay-Z won the prize for best international male.
Rockers Kasabian were named best British group, and Florence And The Machine picked up best British album for Lungs.
It was also a successful night for JLS, who collected the award for British breakthrough act, then the statuette for best British single for Beat Again.
The band, runners-up on The X Factor 2008, beat the show's winner, Alexandra Burke, who was nominated for her single Bad Boys, and judge Cole with Fight For This Love.
The show, broadcast live on ITV, was punctuated throughout by silence as offensive language was muted.
It also suffered a shaky start when the sound disappeared and comedian Kay appeared confused, tapping his microphone to check it was working while the message "audio is muted" came on screens.
Two special categories were created to celebrate the best of the Brits over the past 30 years - the best Brits performance and the best album since the ceremony began.
The Spice Girls' 1997 performance of their hits Wannabe and Who Do You Think You Are took the first award while Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory was named best album.
Oasis front man Liam Gallagher accepted the award in typical abrasive style, promptly throwing it and his microphone into the crowd.
Kay remarked simply: "What a knobhead."
Lady Gaga welled up after winning her third award, for international album for The Fame.
Topping a barely-there lace outfit with a huge white wig and mask, she said: "I was really excited to win the first two awards.
"This award means even more to me because I worked so hard on this album for so long. My fans were the first people to believe in me. Thank you so much."