Lead singer Jim Kerr said that when they started out in Scotland in 1977, Glasgow was an artistic “desert”.
He said: “The idea of fame and riches never came into it, we just wanted to be in a great band and take it round the world.
“Everyone talks how everything has changed beyond what we can imagine but essentially what we do here is the same thing. We look for a chorus, a melody, we look for hooks and then we try and take it round the world and hope it means something to people.
“We’re very fortunate because we get recognition.”
He ended by joking: “Alan McGee, it’s a good job you weren’t at our table when you said nothing was happening in 1989 because I would have chinned you.”
It was also a big night for other recording artists, including Adele.
She has crowned her comeback year with an Ivor Novello award for Songwriter of the Year.
The 27-year-old released her third album 25 to critical acclaim in October and broke first week sales records in the UK and US.
Adele, who previously won an Ivor Novello for Songwriter of the Year in 2012 and for Most Performed Work for Rolling In The Deep, is a named writer on all tracks on the album including Hello and I Miss You.
The singer sent a thank you message from Germany where she is on tour, saying: “Thank you so much. I won on my last album as well so to win on this one is a dream.
“I was secretly pregnant then so I couldn’t enjoy the night as well. But cheers, bottoms up, enjoy.”
Also receiving his third award at the ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House was Damon Albarn, who picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional creative talent”.
The Blur frontman and co-founder of Gorrilaz reunited with Blur to release Magic Whip after a 13-year break, which soared to number one and was certified gold.
Recognising his influence on the British music industry, Canadian singer Bryan Adams, who released his 13th studio album Get Up! last year, received the PRS for Music Special International Award.
He has previously won the award for Exceptional Success of a Single Song in 1992 for Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves’ (Everything I Do) I Do It For You and for Best Song Included in a Film or Television Programme in 1996 for Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman.
Manchester alt-rock band Happy Mondays received the Ivors Inspiration Award, their first Novello.
James Bay picked up his first Ivor Novello award for Hold Back The River, the second track from his debut album Chaos And The Calm.
Accepting the PRS for Music Most Performed Work, which goes to the most played song in the UK in 2015, he said that he “definitely didn’t expect to win”.
His co-writer Iain Archer thanked Basca (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) for the work it did to defend the BBC in the recent Government White Paper, saying: “We couldn’t have done this without the BBC, so thank you for defending a great institution.”
Host Paul Gambaccini praised Bay and told the crowd that his performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps had been a “highlight” of Sir George Martin’s recent funeral.
The ceremony provided a bounty of other first-time winners, including Outstanding Song Collection for Scottish rock band Simple Minds, celebrating their body of work across their 39-year career.
Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons and Adrian Utley won the PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award for their three albums: Dummy, Portishead and Third.
It was poorly received by bandmember Geoff Barrow. He said: “I don’t believe you can judge music but I’ve been brought up here. You can’t judge it, it’s just f****** wrong.
“I’m not going to say thank you because I don’t believe in these things and Beth (Gibbons) doesn’t talk anyway so we’re the perfect band for this event.”
However, Adrian Utley did say thank you for their special award.
British composer Oliver Knussen, whose composing career began at just six years old and was conducting his first symphony’s premiere at Royal Festival Hall at 15, won his first Novello for the Ivors Classical Music Award.
Knussen has served as co-artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival and is composer laureate for London Sinfonietta.
Wayne Hector, who has written for One Direction, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj and penned some of Westlife’s biggest hits, took home the International Achievement Award, his first Novello, for exceptional success outside the UK.
Presented by Basca and now in their 61st year, the awards celebrate excellence in songwriting and composing and are highly respected because they are voted for by industry members.