Stormzy – Birmingham – 11/04/2017 LIVE REVIEW

Following a few years of breakthrough success for not only himself but also for Grime as a genre, Stormzy has been making quite the name for himself through his performances and music alike. This year after the release of his debut album Gang Signs and Prayer, Stormzy has headed out on tour to showcase and celebrate the release of this album, which had Spotify crashing moments after its midnight release, and if the Brit performance with Ed Sheeran was anything to go by it will be a night bursting with energy.

Opening up this night full of high octane beats and energy is support act A2 whom came out to a packed crowd, something that doesn’t always happen for an opening act, but was good to see. As A2 began his set there was this sense that it took him a few moments to fully find his footing and get in to the swing of his set, be it nerves or otherwise. However, post his opening number which was strong in not only his ability to keep up his flow live, but also in the accompanying beat which powered through speakers and managed to get the crowd moving A2 seemed to get more comfortable.

As A2’s set progressed his set allowed him to showcase his ability to rap closely to the original beat that his music sits upon but it also allowed him to show his ability at keeping the crowd engaged through not only his energy, which although at times felt minimal still did what it needed, but also the vast array in tempos that his songs have, allowing for slower moments but also more upbeat moments as well. A2, powered through his extremely short set, which displayed his ability at keeping his flow in time with these fast or slow tempos. As he reached toward the end of his set it was clear the crowd were far more engaged with him then they had been st the beginning which was almost apparent in how much more A2 gave the more the crowd had been won over. A2’s final track was by far the highlight of his set as it gave a different flare that hadn’t yet been present at this point in his set. Overall A2’s performance was solid and opened up the evening well, however due to its short run time it feels like A2 almost held back in comparison to what may be present in his full set (6/10)

Following what almost seemed to be an abrupt end to A2’s set, two DJ’s took the stage to fill in the big gap left between sets, unfortunately the 90’s classics, grime classics and other well known anthems seemed to make A2’s set disappear in to the ether, which truly was a shame.

After a huge crowd reaction Stormzy took to the stage, beginning things with First Things First. This opener alone showed just what was in store for the rest of the night, with not a single person not being involved with Stormzy yelling back as he held himself confidently on stage not missing a chance to showcase just what has blown him up during the past few years.  Cold, followed quickly after which truly brought the room alive. Following this track, which had been packed to the brim with high octane energy Stormzy took a moment to address the crowd, talking about how we are all here for a good night, so no one should be ruining someone else’s evening.

Stormzy then showed his ability to control the crowd getting everyone ready for the vast array of dynamics the rest of his set would encompass from the big hits such as One Take Freestyle which showed the crowd come alive to slower cuts of his debut album like Velvet/Jenny Francis (Interlude) . Similarly to how the album commands Mr. Skeng made his way through to the speakers making the room come alive like many other times during the evening, a track which yet again showed how effortlessly Stormzy can rap upon the beat, almost moment for moment like it had been on Gang Signs and Prayer. This similarly to many moments during his set Stormzy showed his almost flawless merging with the recorded beat. After this vast array in dynamics tracks like Cigarettes and Kush, Return of The Rucksack  and Blinded By Your Grace pt.1 graced the crowd however, it was in these moments where it felt that the hype surrounding these tracks and Stormzy’s live shows felt lost as the energy wasn’t as consistent as it first seemed.
As Stormzy’s set continued, it was clear that his live performance was mainly pushed by his energy and his vocal and rapping ability, alongside this the synergy between him and his DJ seemed perfect with every moment seeming perfectly rehearsed and well coordinated. Stormzy then quickly pushed through a surprising rendition of Shape Of You, 100 Bags, 21 Gun Salute and Know Me From it was evident through all of these moments why Stormzy has blown up in such an exceptional way. Finally as Stormzy started to bring his set to a close the crowd finally picked up the energy from a small lull that had been evident a few moments, with Shut Up being the driving force behind this energy increase. Big For Your Boots and Blinded By Your Grace Pt.2 the came along to perfectly ending his set and the night which had been full of musical dynamics and explosive energy. (9/10)