Photo Credit: © BBC
Shannon Saunders – Ellie Turner
The BBC Introducing Stage was undoubtedly an underrated gem hidden amongst the hustle of Big Weekend. Shannon Saunders, a house-pop singer and PearShaped favourite, stepped out early in the afternoon on the Saturday. She brought all of the ingredients needed to concoct a perfect Introducing set, including her beautiful vocals, catchy tunes and glowing enthusiasm.
The audience were hooked the minute Saunders stepped out and began playing Back Around. The electronic beat was almost hypnotising in the way in which it forced everyone to dance, with Saunders’ flawless vocals complimenting the track and making it sound even more impressive live. Fan favourites Sheets and Lo-Fi ensured that no one stopped moving, tempting those festival-goers who were walking past to join in and watch the performance. Despite appearing nervous between tracks, her vocals remained strong and her passion was infectious. Shannon Saunders is amazing on record and is somehow even more amazing live – her vocal ability paired with the catchiness of her tracks means that she is an artist who I cannot recommend enough to anyone. Having peppered her set with some exciting new tracks, Saunders is definitely an artist to keep an eye on – the BBC clearly agree.
Stormzy – Daisy Nikoloska
“This right here is proof that Grime matters,” Stormzy said, pausing midway through his set to address the audience. The set up: a DJ rig at the back of the stage, with DJ TiiNY inside, Michael Omari, better known as Stormzy, dressed entirely in white, gripping a microphone, everyone in the crowd so enraptured that it felt like I had to wait for Stormzy to tell me when to breathe. Without a doubt, Stormzy was the best thing I saw across the weekend. His set included some of his WickedSkengMan freestyles, a throw in verse from Lethal Bizzle’s Fester Skank, and skyrocketed towards Shut Up and Know Me From at the end. Even in the pit that grew towards the end of the set, it was because of the energy in the tent, not just chaos. I may have left the In New Music We Trust tent with a little less hair than I’d entered with, but it was so worth it.
Jake Bugg – Liam Hill
Despite being a fan of Jake Bugg, his catalogue is not built for mainstream pop festival stages. As one of the BBC’s biggest success stories, it was natural for Bugg to be placed on the main stage of the two-day festival, yet unfortunately it would appear that the bulk of his work is not known to the general public. Other than his more well-known hits Lightning Bolt and Seen It All, which certainly went down a treat, Bugg can appear to be an artist of mystery, this being something undesired on a festival main stage. Moreover, being sandwiched in between two very radio-friendly acts (Jess Glynne and Bastille), Bugg’s unique musical style became even more distinctive. This is not to take away from Bugg’s incredible talent, and I personally was in awe of both his characteristic vocals and his effortlessly brilliant guitar skills. Whilst Bugg’s second single from his latest album, Gimme The Love provided for a more festival-friendly atmosphere, I nonetheless would have much preferred to have seen Bugg in a more intimate setting, such as the In New Music We Trust stage. Notwithstanding perfect weather, perfect music and perfect delivery, Bugg simply did not energise the crowd as a main stage act should.
CHVRCHES – Jessikah Hope Stenson
In their seven-song set at Radio One’s Big Weekend, Glaswegian synth-pop legends CHVRCHES included some of their most successful and irresistible tracks. Opener Never Ending Circles was a definite crowd pleaser, shortly followed by Empty Threat and Bury It which received lively audience reactions, with a vast number of fans singing along.
Lauren Mayberry shone, both with her voice and the glitter on her face, and commanded the crowd like a Hayley Williams in the making. She looked so natural and relaxed on stage while Martin Doherty and Iain Cook, the other two thirds of CHVRCHES, were flawless in their synthesiser performances.
Impressively, the energy of the show didn’t drop for moment – not even halfway through the set when the band performed Recover, a more mellow tune. They followed this with Leave A Trace and my personal favourite song, Clearest Blue, as the penultimate track.
To conclude their thirty minute slot, CHVRCHES took the crowd by storm with their classic hit Mother We Share. Lauren opened the song without the usual backing, showcasing her gorgeous voice, and then bounced into the song and left the crowd roaring for more. iPlayer will never be able to do this set justice.
Tame Impala – Hope Claydon
I’ve been a fan of Tame Impala for a few years now but have never managed to see them live – but the minute their Big Weekend set plunged into Let It Happen I knew it was real love. Set against the backdrop of mesmerising spirograph visuals, their pumping 7-minute synth fanfare was brought to life in new epic proportions. Their small time slot and the length of some of their songs meant they could only play a few tracks, but they managed to cherry-pick some of the best songs from their back-catalogue; not only from Currents, their most recent album, but some old fan-favourites (Mind Mischief, Elephant). Tame Impala undoubtedly know how to throw a good show; whether it was the confetti cannons or the hypnotising of lead singer Kevin Parker, the energy in the crowd was electric. And the minute the psychedelic rockers started playing The Less I Know The Better I looked into that crowd of sweaty, drunk 15-year-olds and knew the wait to see them had been worth it. It was a captivating, other-worldly affair and the fastest half an hour of my life but I didn’t stop grinning for the rest of the day.
For more coverage of Radio 1’s Big Weekend go to Xpression FM, XTV and Exeposé. Listen back via the Radio 1 website and watch highlights on Radio 1’s YouTube channel.