Robbie Williams is angel of Brits

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The Independent Online
ROBBIE WILLIAMS won three awards last night at The Brits - the biggest event in the rock and pop calendar. The former Take That singer made a spectacular entrance at the start of the ceremony, coming on to the stage on a rope.

The Manic Street Preachers won both the best group and best album awards; and there were two awards also for the Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia, voted best international newcomer and best international female artist.

The Eurythmics - Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart - reformed to play a set at the show's climax after receiving the outstanding achievement award.

In an evening at the London Arena in Docklands glittering with celebrities and cabinet ministers, the focal point of the show was a political one - the launch of "Drop the Debt", the music industry campaign to persuade world leaders to write off Third World debt.

The campaign was launched by the rock star Bono, of U2. In an emotional moment he presented an award to the former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, who has been an international ambassador for the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel unpayable debt.

Ali had said earlier: "Nothing is more important to the poorest nations of Africa and Latin America than to be able to keep more of what they earn and invest it in their people and the lives and well-being of their children. I support Jubilee 2000's efforts to bring the issue of debt relief to the attention of the world."

Fatboy Slim, whose alter ego Norman Cook is marrying the Radio One presenter Zoe Ball, was voted best dance act, and The Corrs were best international group.

There was a further prize for the award laden Titanic, which won best film soundtrack. Des'ree was best British female artist, and Beck best male international artist.

Indy band Belle and Sebastian, highly popular on the college circuit, won the best British newcomer award.

Robbie Williams's awards came for best British male artist, best video for his song "Millennium", and best single for "Angels".

There was surprisingly no award, despite three nominations, for Gomez, the band that won the Mercury Music Prize last year. Other familiar names who missed out last night were Catatonia and Massive Attack, and in the international section Madonna and Alanis Morissette.

Some of the biggest names in British pop - such as the Spice Girls and Oasis - did not receive nominations because their albums were released outside the qualifying period.

Bono said in his speech: "The whole concept of celebrating the millennium, a particular moment in time, what is it? What's it all about? It's bollocks. Just in the nick of time Jubilee 2000 has come along with a big idea, the biggest idea I've ever heard.

"We have just got to stop asking starving people to give back the money our countries have lent them plus interest. We have a once-in-a-millennium chance to change the world," he said.

The Eurythmics added to the increasingly political occasion by dedicating their performance to Stephen Lawrence. The show also saw a surprise appearance by Stevie Wonder.

The tragic groupies, Review, page 4

The Award Winners

Best group: Manic Street Preachers

Album: Manic Street Preachers, This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours

Newcomer: Belle and Sebastian

Dance act: Fatboy Slim

Soundtrack: Titanic

International group: The Corrs

International newcomer: Natalie Imbruglia

International male solo artist: Beck

International female solo artist: Natalie Imbruglia

British male solo artist: Robbie Williams

British female solo artist: Des'Ree

Single: Robbie Williams, "Angels"

Video: Robbie Williams, "Millennium"

Outstanding contribution to British Music: Eurythmics