Winehouse, McCartney play at Brit Awards

By | February 21, 2008 at 2:06 AM

Amy Winehouse and Paul McCartney set their recent troubles aside to steal the show Wednesday at the Brit Awards, the British music industry’s most prestigious prizes. Rockers Foo Fighters and British bands Take That and Arctic Monkeys were all double winners at Britain’s equivalent of the Grammys.

Although she wasn’t up for any awards, troubled retro-soul diva Winehouse received a rapturous reception when she appeared to perform “Valerie” with Mark Ronson. She followed that up with the sultry ballad “Love is a Losing Game” from her breakthrough album “Back to Black.”

Winehouse, who appeared composed and confident, urged the crowd at Earl’s Court arena to “make some noise for my Blake.” Winehouse’s husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, is in prison awaiting trial for assault and lying to police.

Winehouse, 24, has had a tumultuous 12 months since she was named best female British act at last year’s Brits. She won five Grammys earlier this month – a rare high point in a year of erratic behavior, canceled concerts, tabloid headlines and a spell in drug rehab.

McCartney, who has spent the last week in court trying to settle his acrimonious divorce from Heather Mills, closed the show with a crowd-pleasing medley of hits, including “Hey Jude” and “Live and Let Die” – a song he co-wrote with his late first wife Linda.

Accepting a lifetime achievement award, the former Beatle said: “I just think British music is the best.”

Grown-up boy band Take That took the British single of the year prize for its song “Shine” and also was named best live act.

The band – which split in 1996 but reformed a decade later minus original member Robbie Williams – joked about its members’ advancing years.

“I’m 37 years old, I’ve got an arthritic knee,” band member Jason Orange said.

The spiky pop quartet Arctic Monkeys was named British group of the year and also took the British album of the year prize for “Favourite Worst Nightmare.”

Performer-producer Ronson, who has worked with Winehouse, Christina Aguilera and Jay-Z, was named British male solo act.

“I’ve never felt so British or male in my entire life,” said Ronson, who divides his time between New York and London.

The British female solo artist trophy went to singer-songwriter Kate Nash, while Beirut-born, London-raised Mika, whose flamboyant vocal style has been likened to Queen’s Freddie Mercury, was named British breakthrough act.

Kanye West and Kylie Minogue were named international solo acts of the year. Foo Fighters took prizes for international group and international album of the year for “Echoes Silence Patience & Grace.”

The show, hosted by rock elder statesman Ozzy Osbourne and his family, was largely free of surprises.

Performers at the show included Kaiser Chiefs, Minogue and R&B star Rihanna, who sang her song “Umbrella” with the British band Klaxons.

The awards are run by the British Phonographic Industry Ltd., an industry association. Most winners are selected by a vote of more than 1,000 industry members, including representatives from record companies, the media, retailers, record producers, disc jockeys and promoters.

The British single, British breakthrough act and British live act prizes are decided by public phone or online voting.

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