After teasing the live collaboration on social media yesterday (May 10), the pair took to The O2 Arena stage for a spectacular performance of the 1987 single – which inspired the title of Russell T Davies’ recent drama, starring Alexander.
Beginning with the Years & Years frontman atop John’s piano, the track soon erupted into a dazzling synth-pop smash. Dancers and backing singers appeared behind the artists as screens displayed brightly coloured graphics.
A studio version of the joint cover – produced by Stuart Price (Madonna, The Killers, Scissor Sisters) alongside the Pet Shop Boys – is now available to stream/download here, with proceeds going towards the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
— BRIT Awards (@BRITs) May 11, 2021
Introducing the collaborative BRITs performance this evening, Elton John’s husband David Furnish compared the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic to that of the AIDS outbreak – which he said was met with “silence” in 1981.
“People with HIV and AIDS were treated with ignorance, fear, shame and stigma,” Furnish added. “That silence allowed AIDS to grow into the greatest disease affecting our planet. But we fought back.”
Airing on Channel 4 earlier this year, the five-part It’s A Sin shone a light on the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s. Alexander portrayed Ritchie Tozer alongside a cast including Keeley Hawes (Valerie Tozer), Callum Scott Howells (Colin Morris-Jones) and Lydia West (Jill Baxter).
Hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, this year’s BRIT Awards ceremony opened with Coldplay performing their new single ‘Higher Power’ from a pontoon on the River Thames. Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks, Headie One and more also took to the stage at The O2 Arena throughout the evening.
Check back at NME.COM for all the latest news and interviews from the BRIT Awards 2021.