Old faces take centre stage at pop awards

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The Independent Online
BEWARE inviting an alternative comedian to present a prize at a televised awards ceremony.

Harry Enfield's disc jockeys, Smashy and Nicey, were guest presenters at last night's Brit Awards for the best in pop music and announced that it was 'vote- rig-mungus' to be here.

The record company bosses who organised the awards would not have relished being reminded that the Electoral Reform Society had been called in over allegations of block voting by some record companies.

But it caused one of the few sharp intakes of breath in a heady night for the pounds 300 ticket-holders at the Alexandra Palace in north London for the awards and the glitszy after-show party, which included casino, Quasar and laser guns, fairground waltzer and hypnotist. Play at your own risk, it said on the ticket.

A warning that should have been given to rising new British pop band, Suede, whose brief ear- splitting on-stage performance caused a Pavlovian rush to powder noses among the evening- dress audience.

The actual awards went to safer if older stock. Annie Lennox and Mick Hucknall were both successful this year, as last.

The one gesture to the rebelliousness of pop in fact came from a classical musician, Nigel Kennedy, who said he would auction his award for pounds 2,000 and give the proceeds to the miners, as he was 'fed up with people being put on the scrap-heap'.

One of the great successes of the night was the Ally Pally, which has at last re-established itself as a key London venue for ceremonies and even for concerts. It certainly seemed to have done so by the end of the evening, when Rod Stewart, who won a special long- service award, played a nostalgic 'Stay With Me' with The Faces and Bill Wyman. Stewart calculated that, collectively, there were 234 years up on stage.

The principal awards were: Male Artist, Mick Hucknall; Female, Annie Lennox; Best Group, Simply Red; Best Album, Annie Lennox. Prince, REM and Nirvana won the international awards, and U2 was the Most Successful Live Act. Nigel Kennedy's Beethoven Violin Concerto was voted Best Classical Recording, and Best New Single was Take That with 'Could It Be Magic'.