With a cry of, “Wagwan, Reading?” grime’s rising star takes to the stage. A last-minute replacement for Travis Scott, Stormzy had big boots to fill. But if the crowd reaction is anything to go by, they fitted him pretty well.
By way of introduction, his DJ takes us through the history of grime, playing a mix of classics that includes Meridian Dan’s ‘German Whip’, Lethal Bizzle’s ‘Pow 2004’ and Solo 45’s ‘Feed Em To The Lions’. Mosh pits open everywhere, and Stormzy isn’t even spitting yet.
When he does finally start he doesn’t pull any punches, hitting us with ‘Scary’ before promising an even better show than his 2015 Reading set.
As if things weren’t going well enough, he decides to shoot a music video for new song ‘Cold’, telling us: ‘I tried this at V festival but it didn’t work, so I need you to go f***ing mental’. The crowd happily obliges with a roar.
It isn’t all shouting and skanking though. Stormzy talks about grime’s origins in East London and takes time out to praise the originators of the genre. Off the back of this he launches into his verses on the remix to ‘Fester Skank’ and ‘Dude’, both are nods to Lethal Bizzle and his longevity in the scene.
Packing out a headline slot on the 1Xtra Stage without even releasing an album is a hell of a feat, and Stormzy is securing grime’s future. A massive part of that seems to be that he makes sure not to forget its past.
Originally published as part of NME/University of Reading’s Reading Festival coverage at: http://readinglive.nme.com/