Live review: TRNSMT, Glasgow Green, Fri 12 Jul
Stormzy / credit: Ryan Johnston
Stormzy rules the day as TRNSMT goes grime
You can tell it's a festival day in Glasgow as streams of neon-clad giddy teenagers draw ever onwards towards Glasgow Green. TRNSMT is an unpredictable festival. Headliners over the years have veered all over the place, from Queen to Radiohead and Biffy Clyro. Today's line-up is skewed to the young team, tapping into the sound of Britain's inner cities.
Grime no longer exists in the underground, British hip hop has found its own voice mixing rap with garage beats and a UK accent. It's a sparse live show from AJ Tracey (he keeps apologising for having no guests with him today) but there's a confidence and swagger to tracks like 'Jackpot', 'Doing It' and 'Fashion Week'.
Years & Years (★★★★☆) channel Balearic house through their big euphoric pop. Olly Alexander is a magnetic frontman resplendent in multi-coloured leopard print as he slinks around the stage, donning a sparkling 20 foot maxi dress and perfectly capturing the summer vibes on 'Shine', 'Desire' and as rainbow confetti cannons explode during set closer 'King'.
Grime hasn't just taken hold in London, as Birmingham's Mist (★★★★☆) takes a hard and heavy approach that draws on old-school hip hop, while King Tut's Stage closer Example (★★★☆☆) plays it safe with crowd-pleasing EDM bangers.
On today's line-up, Gerry Cinnamon (★★★☆☆) stands out as an indie anomaly. But he's welcomed like a conquering hero. Just one man, a guitar and a mouthie, the GC live experience (especially in Glasgow) transcends his music (basically a solo take on Oasis-ish guitar jangling). Every word echoed by the thousands cramming the main stage. It taps into (the good bits of) Scottish nationalism, a pride in place and an overwhelming sense of togetherness.
Despite all the drama (at one point it looked like he might not make it due to cancelled flights), Stormzy (★★★★★) rules TRNSMT. Obviously brimming with confidence after his Glastonbury triumph, he has the crowd in his hand as soon as he bounds on stage. A mesmerising presence and, while you'd be a fool to expect the bells and whistles of his Worthy Farm performance, his set is liberally punctuated with fireworks and flames, turning it into a truly headline-worthy performance. The music and beats rattle through the crowd, but what gives his music real weight is that Stormzy actually has something to say about modern Britain.
Continually hyping the crowd ('energy crew'), even his Lewis Capaldi (who he describes as 'a fuckin' bad boy') and Ed Sheeran covers are palatable in this setting. Predictably, 'Crown', 'Shut Up', 'Vossi Bop' and 'Big for Your Boots' are explosive but it's the smooth jazz of 'Cigarettes & Cush' and in particular the gospel hymnal of 'Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2' that really prove Stormzy's versatility. A huge communal singalong that is both life-affirming and beautiful, sung loud by several thousand voices.
'Know Me From'
'First Things First'
'Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 1'
'Someone You Loved' (Lewis Capaldi cover)
'Shape of You' (Ed Sheeran cover)
'Cigarettes & Cush'
'Big for Your Boots'
'Blinded by Your Grace, Pt. 2'