Predictable winners. Unimaginative performances. Presenters who couldn't manage a single gag between them. Barring Elbow's shock victory in the best British Group category (presented by The Hoff, who looked even drunker than Guy Garvey), last night's BRIT Awards was the most dispiriting and uneventful ceremony since, ooh, Annie Lennox and Simply Red received two gongs apiece in 1993.
But there was one award that created a small thrill of surprise: Iron Maiden winning Best Live Act, their first ever BRIT.
This was met in most quarters as if it was somehow massively unorthodox and against-the-grain. "Bet the organisers had to hold their noses when they gave that one out," read one comment on The Guardian's live blog.
But why should it have taken the BRIT panel so long to honour Iron Maiden? Here's a band who have sold more than 70 millions albums, and who, 34 years into their career, are by far the highest-grossing live British rock act on the planet, capable of selling out vast stadiums in territories – Ecuador, Lima, Bogota – where the likes of Coldplay are barely a blip on the radar.
More than that, though, frontman Bruce Dickinson - with his fondness for fencing, his humanitarian airline pilot work (in 2006 he flew 200 UK citizens home from Lebanon during the Israel/Hezbollah conflict) and bizarre flights of fancy (he once wrote a book called 'The Adventures Of Lord Iffy Boatrace') – is a genuine British eccentric.
Surely this is the sort of character we should be celebrating, rather than dead-eyed automatons such as Duffy and The Ting Tings.
In fact, as I was liveblogging the ceremony last night, a vision started to form in my mind. Next year, organisers should give the Lifetime Achievement award to Iron Maiden.
Think about: a medley of Howitzer-heavy anthems to close the night – 'Run To The Hills', 'The Trooper', 'The Number Of The Beast' – accompanied by a colossal Eddie stalking the stage, eyes ablaze, spitting fire into the first five rows. It'd be an extraordinary, exhilarating spectacle – and just the thing to shake the BRIT Awards out of the bloodless, self-satisfied torpor into which it seems to have settled.
Who's with me?
[BRIT Awards photo gallery]
[BRIT Awards news reports]