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Coldplay frontman Chris Martin delivered a moving tribute to George Michael at the BRIT Awards last night (February 23), after a moving tribute from his former Wham! band members.

Midway through proceedings, Andrew Ridgeley, Helen “Pepsi” DeMacque and Shirlie Holliman, aka Pepsi & Shirlie, the pop duo who went on to have hits in the 1980s with songs like “Heartache,” took to the stage in London’s O2 Arena.

“On Christmas Day 2016, the greatest singer-songwriter of his generation, an icon of his era, and my beloved friend, George Michael, was lost,” Andrew told the audience.

“A supernova in a firmament of shining stars had been extinguished, and it felt like the sky had fallen in. It started out ordinarily enough: In 1975, we were two boys that happened to share a mutual sense of humor, a love of life-affirming music, the records and artists it gave birth to, and a shared sense that we understood it.”

Needless to say things quickly got emotional, given they’d known the Faith singer since they were teenagers:

(L-R) Pepsi DeMacque, Andrew Ridgeley and Shirlie Holliman present a tribute to George Michael on stage at The BRIT Awards 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)
(L-R) Pepsi DeMacque, Andrew Ridgeley and Shirlie Holliman present a tribute to George Michael on stage at The BRIT Awards 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)

Andrew then introduced Chris Martin, who took to the stage to sing George’s 1986 single “A Different Corner,” backed by a full orchestra. Midway through, archive footage of George appeared on video screens around the arena, so that at one point it appeared he was singing along à la Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” 1992 duet.

(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

The choice of song, the stripped back set, and the change of pace from what had been until that point a night of high-octane pop performances, made it a beautiful tribute.

Also on hand to perform were Ed SheeranRobbie Williams, and Bruno Mars, though none of them brought a hush to the crowd of fans and music industry insiders like the George Michael tribute.

As for the rest of the show, the important business of handing out awards began when Anglo favorite David Tennant took to the stage to announce the winner of the Best British Female award.

The winner was Emeli Sande, while The 1975 won Best British Group, and Drake and rap legends A Tribe Called Quest won Best International Male and Group respectively.

The split between British and International categories meant a re-run of the Grammys’ controversial decision to award Adele over Beyonce was avoided, as the “Hello” singer picked up a Global Success Award for the second running, and Queen Bey won Best International Female.

There were some surprises too: Best British Single went to Little Mix‘s “Shoutout to my Ex” over ex-One Direction-er Zayn‘s “Pillowtalk” and Coldplay‘s “Hymn for the Weekend,” while singer-songwriter Rag ‘n’ Bone Man beat grime MCs Stormzy and Skepta to pick up the Best Breakthrough, an award previously won by Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, and Oasis.

And yet despite those surprises, there were none of the unscripted moments we’ve come to expect from the annual outing of the British music industry, unless you count Katy Perry literally bringing the house down during her performance of “Chained to the Rhythm”:

There was one more moment that brought a tear to the eyes of everyone watching, however, and it involved a tribute too, this time to another artist we lost in 2016: David Bowie. The late legendary artist won Best British Male and Best British Album for his mournful swansong, Blackstar.

There to collect the latter award was his son the film director Duncan Jones, who dedicated it to “all the kooks, and all the people who make the kooks,” referring to the song his father wrote for him as a child and released on his 1971 Hunky Dory album.

It was a fitting end to a night celebrating kooks, misfits and outsiders the world over.

What was your favorite moment from the night?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.