Adele made a triumphant return to the Brits – winning three prizes and dedicating the biggest gong of the night to her son in a tearful speech.
The pop superstar, 33, took home Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year during the first ceremony to feature gender-neutral categories.
Her success brings her total Brits haul to 12 and increases her lead as the most decorated solo female artist at the awards.
She is also now the only solo artist to have won album of the year three times – with only the bands Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys equalling her total.
Host Mo Gilligan kicked off the evening at London’s O2 Arena with a sketch in which he attempted to plan a dramatic entrance, but was thwarted by the show’s policies on carbon emissions.
Adele soon won the first award of the night – Song of the Year for her hit single Easy on Me – after walking the red carpet wearing a sweeping black velvet gown with a tulle overlay.
She wore a large ring on her fourth finger, prompting speculation on social media that she is engaged to her sports agent boyfriend Rich Paul.
During her acceptance speech, she described attending the event as like “coming home”.
Later, she returned to the stage to collect the inaugural award for Artist of the Year after it went gender-neutral for 2022.
After praising fellow nominee Little Simz, she added: “Dave, Ed, Sam – I am so proud to be in your company. I love being an artist, I really do, and I genuinely can’t believe it is my job.
“And real artistry – I know I have spoken about it before – but there are so many new artists here. England, the UK, we have so many incredible new young artists coming up.
“Never lose sight of why you are who you are. The reason people are into you is because of something you have in you. Don’t let go of that ever.
“And also, I understand why the name of this award has changed but I really love being a woman and being a female artist. I do. I am really proud of us.”
Returning to the stage to collect the final award of the night – Album of the Year for 30 – she paid tearful tribute to her nine-year-old son and ex-partner Simon Konecki, who she split from in 2019 and has said inspired the record.
Visibly emotional, she said: “I would like to dedicate this award to my son and to Simon, his dad.
“This was all of our journeys. Not just mine. I am very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and putting an album out that was about something so personal to me because not many people do stuff like that any more.
“My son has been so gracious. So gracious and kind and patient with me over the last couple of years. It is for him.”
Adele also delivered a rendition of I Drink Wine from her chart-topping fourth studio album, 30, dressed in a gold ballgown and matching stilettos, against the backdrop of a glittering gold wall.
She last performed at the awards in 2016, singing When We Were Young while also taking home four awards.
Her performance came after she postponed her Las Vegas Caesars Palace residency at short notice, with Grammy-winning country music star Keith Urban stepping in to replace her.
The Brits academy faced pressure to do away with its male and female-specific awards this year and has scrapped gendered categories, introducing gender-neutral gongs in their place.
Nominations for the Brit Awards this year featured the most women in more than a decade, with 18 female artists or all-women groups receiving nods.
Also among the winners were Little Simz for best new artist, Wolf Alice for best group and Sam Fender for rock and alternative artist.
Billie Eilish claimed the award for international artist for a third consecutive time and said in a pre-recorded message: “I am so honoured and feel so lucky to be awarded this again. I don’t feel deserving,” before expressing her excitement at headlining Glastonbury this summer.
Rapper Dave closed the ceremony, taking to the stage with a gospel choir.
The rapper, who also won the award for Best Hip Hop, Grime and Rap Artist, played the acoustic guitar before jumping on the piano and finishing with an electric guitar solo.
The awards ceremony this year featured an all-British line-up of live performers including Dave, rising star award winner Holly Humberstone, Liam Gallagher and Little Simz.
US rapper and singer Doja Cat was forced to pull out after members of her crew tested positive for Covid-19.
- Artist of the Year: Adele
- Best Group: Wolf Alice
- Song of the Year: Easy on Me, Adele
- Best New Artist: Little Simz
- Album of the Year: 30 by Adele
- Rock and Alternative Artist: Sam Fender
- Hip Hop, Grime and Rap Artist: Dave
- Dance Artist: Becky Hill
- Pop and R&B Artist: Dua Lipa
- International Artist: Billie Eilish
- International Group: Silk Sonic/Bruno Mars/Anderson .Paak
- International Song of the Year: Good 4 U by Olivia Rodrigo
- Rising Star: Holly Humberstone
- Producer of the Year: Inflo
- Songwriter of the Year: Ed Sheeran