Stormzy A.K.A. Big Mike A.K.A. Wicked Skengman A.K.A The Problem A.K.A. a range of other aliases, put on a show that proved to be a perfect culmination of his journey from underground, street rapper to one of the most successful rappers the UK has seen. As someone who grew up in the same area, it is nothing short of inspirational, to see what this young, MC has done and it should act as motivation for young, black creatives; showing that anything is possible with the right mindset.
The atmosphere was electric, with mosh pits forming before even the opening act graced the stage, and it was clear the crowd were in a state of intense anticipation for Stormzy’s appearance. However, opening act A2 provided the ‘calm before the storm’ with his smooth delivery and airy, bassy instrumentals. A2 is a gem of an artist and it is only a matter of time before he gets the recognition that he deserves, so it was great to see him given to opportunity to perform in front of a large crowd, introducing his unique, brand of music to a new audience.
On to the main man. Stormzy began his set in dramatic fashion, with darkness engulfing the arena and seven pillars shining through; displaying each letter in Stormzy’s name, one by one. When it got to the last letter, a silhouette of Stormzy with his arms out, looking almost statuesque, appeared and the intro of ‘First Things First’ began to play. I struggle to put into words the reaction of the crowd, but let’s just say that, within an instant, I was pressed against the railing I was learning against just due to the sheer number of people trying to get as close to the rapper as possible. The atmosphere was euphoric. Stormzy’s energy matched that of the crowd and it was instantly apparent that this was going to be a great show.
In terms of highlights of the show, as most would have predicted, the performance of bangers such as ‘Mr. Skeng’, ‘Bad Boy’, ‘Shut Up’, ‘Where Do You Know Me from’, etc. set the crowd alight. Although it was nice hearing the collective croon of the crowd, when singing ‘Blinded by your Grace’, it couldn’t match the aggressive screams when ‘Where Do You Know Me From’ dropped.
Yet, what pushed the show to greatness was the amazing special guests who blessed the stage alongside young Stormz. The first was Ghetts, who provided the energy you’d expect from the legendary grime MC, for his verse on ‘Bad Boys’. Another one of grime’s legendary artists, Chip, made a guest appearance to go back to back with Big Mike to perform their collaboration ‘Hear Dis’. Wretch 32, probably the best rapper in the country, also dropped by to sing his smooth hook to album highlight, ‘21 Gun Salute’, but the most shocking and exciting guest was saved for last. Ed Sheeran. The international superstar, performed the worldwide hit ‘Shape of You (Remix)’, which features verses from Stormzy, to a joyful audience and was definitely an awesome moment.
With the energy levels sky high, both in the audience and on stage, this was simply an outstanding concert and it is impressive to see an artist have such a stage presence in the early stages of his career. What made it such a good overall performance, is the fact that Stormzy genuinely seemed overjoyed and overwhelmed at being able perform to such an enthusiastic audience in his hometown. As cliché as it sounds, the future looks bright for Stormzy and I can only hope that this momentum pushes him to become the star he deserves to be.