STORMZY LIVE REVIEW: A HIGH ENERGY PERFORMANCE CUT SHORT
After a two-year Australian break, a critically acclaimed debut album and a BET Award for Best International Act: Europe, grime’s wonder boy is back.
Some artists set the tone of their shows before they even stride on stage; some use screen projections of videos and ~intriguing~ photos in order to hype their crowds, others stick to supporting acts to do that job for them. However, for Stormzy, real name Michael Owuo, social media was his preferred outlet. Taking to snapchat to announce his excitement of being back down under, the grime MC promised a high-impact energetic show that would fulfil every grime fan’s wishes and more. After seeing the show, it can be confirmed he almost did all of that. Not quite, but almost.
Starting 15 minutes late, the self-professed “down to earth man from the streets” walked on stage with the rather arrogant bravado that one wouldn’t expect from a man that lives in track suits and regularly tweets about UK reality show, Love Island. Nevertheless, he belted out the first track from his debut album Gang Signs & Prayers, performing “First Things First” with a feeling of commencement that told his excited audience to hold tight and get ready. Separating from the slightly diva-esque late arrival, he returned back down to earth with older tracks “Know Me From”, “Standard”, and “Scary”, proving he was still very much in tune with where he came from.
He alternated the overall vibe of the night, with a mixture of high octane, raw grime to his smoother and slower hits from the GS&P album. Highlights such as the Kehlani featuring “Weed and Kush” delighted even the hardest of Stormzy fans as we saw a different side to his music that was never apparent before his breakthrough record. A surprise performance with Ed Sheeran at this year’s Brit Awards even made an appearance at the night as he encouraged his audience to sing along to Ed’s #1 hit "Shape of You", whilst he rapped effortlessly over it, adding a unique but fitting touch to the song. His rhyming, coupled with his ginormous stage presence and energy presented himself as a world class grime artist, providing clean, pronounced lyrics that encouraged you to “hype up” too.
Saving his two most well-known songs to last (the albums biggest hit “Big for Your Boots” and 2015’s “Shut Up” that initially catapulted him into the limelight), Stormzy repeatedly thanked the crowd, often laughing to himself in astonishment and once again dismissing any of thoughts considering his attitude. But unfortunately, when “shut up” came on and finished, that was it. No encore, no nothing. Not even an hour of stage time for the man who made fans wait over two years to see again. The man who, in comparison to his famed 2015 gig at Jack Rabbit Slims played until 3am with only 2 EP’s to his name, decided that even with a full album under his belt, 55 minutes was enough.
The disappointing time run and initial lateness only added fuel to the rumours that he had “become too big” and “got too famous to be good”, leaving fans shaking their heads despite a stellar performance. After the gig was officially over, it left you wondering how good does an artist have to be for their dramatics to be forgiven and forgotten? Can a 55-minute set really still be conceived as good?
The answer is sort of. Stormzy’s performance at Metro City was one his best in years, only elevated by the confidence of his incredible and complex debut album. His sharp delivery and unstoppable energy were exactly what the crowd both expected and deserved. The progression that undoubtedly took place over the last two years proudly shone as his confidence oozed through his clean rhymes. Smug as ever, he was still the same Stormzy we were waiting for. However, the run time and lateness; not so much. Next time you come man, stay on for longer.