In February this year, Stormzy‘s debut album “Gang Signs & Prayers” became the first Grime album in the UK Albums Chart to reach number one. This historical music moment was groundbreaking for the genre, which originally emerged in London in the early 2000s. To quote Red Bull Music Academy:
“Grime emerged from a world with big visions but narrow horizons. The claustrophobic and densely populated landscape of inner London, peppered with high-rise tower blocks and beset by hardship and petty crime, helped create a sound that was abrasive and unpredictable as if it was bashing against the sides of a cage.”
Hundreds of concert-goers waited eagerly in designated lines outside Enmore Theatre. With the final Sydney sideshow from Splendour being held a day before his 24th birthday, we knew we were in for a great performance. As soon as we entered Enmore, the atmosphere was already set.
The opening acts made sure we would be prepared for the Wicked Skengman. With an energizing hip hop DJ set and also a live performance from Sydney-based emcee Manu Crook$, the crowd went wild, singing along enthusiastically to the numerous hip hop hits being played.
Hyped up from the opening acts, the crowd anticipated the main attraction – South London’s very own, Stormzy. Suddenly the lights dimmed. Blue and white lights started flashing erratically matching the beat when Stormzy appeared on stage performing the first track of his album, ‘First Things First’ as the crowd cheered him on enthusiastically while moving along to the beat.
As soon as Stormzy finished his first song, he humbly thanked us for supporting him and his album. Since the release, he explained to us, that he’s been touring internationally.
To spend his birthday in Sydney amazed him, not just the time difference but the fact he’s just come ‘From South London to Sydney’.
His pride in his humble beginnings and his hometown is shown throughout his music. With this, he represents the story of success and representing a music genre that started in his home city through Pirate Radio in the early 2000’s to gain international recognition in the past 10-12 years. Fans enjoy an artist that stays true to themselves and remembers where they are from. This is shown throughout the whole concert as everyone sings along enthusiastically to not only the majority of his releases from “Gang Signs and Prayers” but also from his previous releases and remixes.
From the energetic ‘Know Me From’ he released in 2015 to his features in remixes of Ed Sheeran – ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Lethal Bizzle – Fester Skank Remix’ ft. Stormzy, Chip, Fuse ODG & Wretch 32. The latter track featuring Stormzy‘s verse that any football fan would appreciate:
“All black, got me looking like I’m Skepta
On the ball, man, I move like Iniesta”
Stormzy was able to change the mood in the concert as well, from singing his energetic bangers to going into his slower songs including ‘Cigarettes & Cush’ feat. Kehlani and ‘100 Bags’ (Dedicated to his Mother’s on-going love and support). This showed a softer side to the Grime artist, whose debut album also provided features from artists outside his genre.
Having this eclectic mix of genres during his show enabled the crowd to get involved no matter what. From his hard hitting tracks to his softly sung romantic ballads, Stormzy was able to take control of the concert-goers hanging on to all his words while dancing along.
It was a great night for the young Grime artist who was completely appreciative of the energy brought to him by his Australian fans, recognised by him doing the Australian tradition of a champagne shoey (i.e. drinking alcohol out of your shoe) in celebration for his birthday the next day.
Stormzy is a great artist who I highly recommend seeing live, whether one of his various solo shows or the numerous music festivals he performs at around the world.
With his fame on the rise internationally, and being friends with artists such as Adele and Ed Sheeran, with his performance on Tuesday night we can see why. He’s a hardworking and humble artist and a great entertainer.
Thanks Stormzy for being so #merky.
*Words and visuals by Talica Tamanitoakula
25 July 2017