“This is the greatest night of my entire life,” Stormzy says, three songs into his headlining Glastonbury set. A significant moment in UK culture, the Croydon artist’s performance is a lesson in how to use your platform to elevate others while making a statement of intent.
Before the Pyramid stage set began, the crowd – a massive one, at that – was tense with excitement. “I’m excited to see him because he’s the music of our generation,” Caroline, from South East London said. “It’s cool that he’s headlining so young.” As the crowd swelled, the lights went out and a video of rapper Jay Z – Glastonbury’s first hip-hop headliner, back in 2008 – sitting on a chair telling Stormzy how to “do it for the culture” so that kids can dream of headlining Glastonbury as well.
For the first three songs, Stormzy remains on stage by himself while a pyrotechnics and light show, as controlled as his performance, erupts. Wearing a Union-Jack-flag-emblazoned bullet-proof vest, he opens with ‘Know Me From’ and then runs through tracks including ‘Mr. Skeng’ before cutting the music. Allowing himself to show his vulnerability, Stormzy reiterates “it’s the most legendary night of my entire life”.