BBC culture reporter
Adele won three out the four main prizes at the Brit Awards on Tuesday, where she also put in an assured performance of her track I Drink Wine.
The singer won best artist, album and song of the year for Easy on Me.
Ed Sheeran was crowned songwriter of the year too at London's O2 Arena, and he performed his hit Bad Habits alongside rockers Bring Me the Horizon.
Dua Lipa won the night's other big prize, as TikTok users voted for her and not Adele as the best pop/R&B act.
It means that for now at least, Robbie Williams is still one gong ahead of Adele as the most-awarded artist in Brits history with 13.
After winning the first of her three awards, for best song, Adele beamed: "I can't believe a piano ballad won up against that many bangers."
Her so-called "divorce album", 30, was the biggest-seller of 2021, shifting more than 600,000 copies in just six weeks, and the star dedicated her award for it to her son and ex-husband.
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The winner of the Brits' first-ever genderless award for overall artist of the year added: "I understand why the name of this award has changed but I really love being a woman and being a female artist. I'm really proud of us."
The move attracted some criticism from figures including Piers Morgan and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries – who said she was concerned about how the new system "would work in terms of fair gender representation".
In the end, more women were nominated than at any time in the past decade, and female artists or female-fronted bands won two-thirds of the awards.
Adele's hat-trick came just weeks after she tearfully postponed her entire Las Vegas residency. She didn't reference that setback during the ceremony, though, and tabloids seemed more interested in whether she was sporting a new diamond ring on her engagement finger.
The ceremony was hosted for the first time by Mo Gilligan, who took over (at the "Mo-2 Arena", as he re-named it) from Jack Whitehall.
The comedian took a swipe at Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the well-documented party-gate controversy. "Boris, I know you're watching," he said into the camera. "I know you love a party.
"Come on my guy, come down man – I know you like a cheeseboard. Look at you, looking for the Dairylea."
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One of the best performances of the night came right at the end from best hip-hop/grime/rap-winner Dave, demonstrating his musical prowess once again by strapping on a six-string and shredding out a guitar solo; after having been joined on a flame-filled stage for a rendition of In the Fire, by fellow rappers Fredo, Ghetts, Meekz, Giggs, and a gospel choir.
is there anything @Santandave1 can't do?? #BRITs pic.twitter.com/Mwwfxi0g5T
Another came courtesy of best new artist winner, Little Simz, who was joined on-stage by The Crown actress Emma Corrin, during a medley of tracks from her critically-acclaimed album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.
Her smart, funky record was music critics' favourite album of 2021, and ahead of the Brits her producer, Inflo – who Adele said also "changed my life" – was named as producer of the year.
"Look what you've done mum," said Simz, collecting her award while accompanied by her mother.
"I am living proof that if you work hard at something, no matter where you come from, no matter your background and your race, you can do something extraordinary."
Elsewhere on the night, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was on hand to give the best rock/alternative award to Sam Fender.
The North Shields rocker thanked his manager for "walking into that pub 10 years ago" and discovering him.
Abba were last nominated for a Brit Award in 1977, losing out to Simon & Garfunkel and a similar fate befell them on Tuesday, as Silk Sonic – aka Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak – took the best international group.
Billie Eilish fended off competition from Olivia Rodrigo to win best international artist. But 18-year-old Rodrigo, who made her live debut at last year's awards, made up for it by winning best international song for her pop-punk anthem Good 4U.
Other winners included Wolf Alice for best group, and Becky Hill for best dance.
Holly Humberstone knew before she arrived she had won the rising star award. She told the BBC that her rapid ascent, which has happened during the pandemic, has been "very strange to me" so far. "I feel like I'm in some kind of alternate universe, but I feel just so lucky," she said.
Anne-Marie stumbled briefly down some stairs during her performance of Don't Play, with YouTuber and rapper KSI and Digital Farm Animals. But she recovered herself quickly, and later tweeted: "Didn't need my left ankle anyway."
Last but not least, Liam Gallagher belted out his new track, Everything's Electric, while donning a trapper hat.
Last year's Brit Awards took place as part of the government's pilot scheme for the return of live events. Covid restrictions necessitated a mixture of live and virtual performances, with artists like Coldplay, The Weeknd and Elton John appearing on tape.
This year, organisers vowed to "keep everything in the room" – even when that meant scrapping a planned performance from US star Doja Cat, after members of her team tested positive for Covid.
They also took the decision to scrap gendered awards, falling in line with other major music prizes like the Grammys, the MTV Awards and Australia's Arias.
Brits chairman Tom March said the move away from best male and female prizes "felt right".
Speaking on the red carpet beforehand, best newcomer nominee Self Esteem told BBC music correspondent Mark Savage: "It's crazy to me it already wasn't the case. You know?
"We're still living in this terribly gendered society even though everything is like, 'live, laugh, love' and everyone's fine."
She added: "I constantly feel second or discriminated against because of being a woman, and isn't that insane? The zeitgeist makes you think it isn't like that anymore.
"So well done Brits for doing it, but I'm not gonna be like, clapping for them!"
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