Leeds may be well and truly (ish) warming up for the summer, but the hottest place to be on a Saturday night in March was inside the small, dark O2 Academy, breaking a sweat with the London grime artist taking the UK by storm.
In case the pun was missed, Stormzy’s ‘Gang Signs and Prayer’ gig was just as fast and furious as his non-stop schedule. From expectant teenagers to middle-aged couples and everyone in between, the crowd were not so much rubbing shoulders as surging backwards and forwards in waves of mosh-pits and fist-pumping. His number-one selling album had clearly been on loop and repeat for everyone in there, with nobody in the Energy Crew (the title Stormzy gave to his fans) missing a beat or a lyric.
Stormzy’s energy and vitality is almost part-and-parcel of what I expected that night. But the momentum was overridden by the passion behind the spitting bars, the authenticity of his rhythm and rhyme, and the seismic collectiveness of everyone in the room. ‘Big For Your Boots’ and ‘Cigarettes and Cush’ were the biggest highlights before the impressive encore of the magnificent gospel/grime combo ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt. 2’. Flattering the crowd by naming them “the best city in the North” and naming it a night that he would never forget, Stormzy echoed the view of everyone watching that night.
Having since taken on Coachella and lined up for his biggest challenge so far at Glastonbury this summer, the light of Stormzy won’t be burning out any time soon.