Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl was declared a God-like genius at the Shockwaves NME Awards and dedicated the prize to former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain.

NME editor Krissi Murison described Dave, the first non-Brit to win the award, as “one of the most important rock stars alive today” before introducing The Who frontman Roger Daltrey to hand over the award at the event at the Brixton Academy in south London.

Dave Grohl, who found fame as the drummer in grunge rockers Nirvana, told the crowd he first came to the venue 20 years ago to watch the Pixies.

He said: “I hoped that one day I could be in a band that was big enough to f***ing play the Brixton Academy.”

Paying tribute to Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994, he said: “This one’s for Kurt, thank you very much”, before joining Daltrey on stage to kick off his set.

American rockers My Chemical Romance started the night with a performance of their track Na Na Na, which later won an award for Best Video. The New Jersey-based group also picked up the prize for Best International Band.

Singer-songwriter Laura Marling was named Best Solo Artist. Muse were crowned Best British Band ahead of Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Kasabian and Biffy Clyro. But they lost out on the Best Live Band award to Biffy Clyro, who broke off from their US tour to attend.

Synthpop duo Hurts were named Best New Band and Arcade Fire won the Best Album award for the critically-acclaimed The Suburbs. The Canadian rockers were not at the ceremony but recorded a jazz-inspired musical video message from studio where they are recording their next album.

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker presented the John Peel award for Innovation to Crystal Castles with television presenter and model Alexa Chung.

Jarvis, who recently announced the Britpop veterans were reuniting, said: “Innovation is very important. Without it there would be just some old men getting back together again and you don’t want that do you?”

The Philip Hall Radar award for new talent, named after the late Manic Street Preachers manager, went to the Naked and Famous and the Teenage Cancer Trust Outstanding Contribution to Music award went to PJ Harvey.

The Shockwaves NME Awards will be shown on television on Saturday, 26 February at 11.20pm on Channel 4.