Gig review: Stormzy at O2 Academy Leeds

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Leeds was baking in early springtime joviality on the night Stormzy, London’s hottest grime act, came to the city, and after staring down the barrel of a 10 hour shift, sunshine pouring through the windows from outside, it would be fair to say the notion of spending the last few hours of my day in a crowded venue with no windows really wasn’t my most enticing prospect.

The heat didn’t deter the crowd, creating a snake-like queue surrounding the venue. Stormzy, bringing his ‘Gang Signs and Prayer’ tour, named after his number one selling album, was the ticket everyone was trying to get their hands on.

Knowing little other than what I had heard in passing, I went in as a blank canvas armed only with my own pre-conceived idea of a grime gig. Not being from south London, I wondered how the lyrical content would connect with my own personal experiences.

Stormzy referred throughout to his capacity audience as his ‘Energy Crew’, hyping both his fans and self alike to keep the momentum amped up to the full. It was at this point where I began to understand the passion of this young artist. There is a bravado and showmanship for sure, but there is a confident, talented lyricist and MC behind the muscle flexing and strobe-lighting.

The crowd were hit with an onslaught of tracks such as Cold, Scary, Cigarettes and Cush and 21 Gun Salute. Every word was spit with accuracy and timing that many similar acts cannot achieve, proving why Stormzy is seen as the current trailblazer to beat.

I may not have left the venue as a staunch grime fan, but beneath the surface of the inner-city slang and razor-sharp hard-hitting lyrical themes, is a man certainly heading to the top of his game.

Nick Hodgson is to release his first solo album in January.

Music interview – Nick Hodgson: ‘I am essentially a musician – whether it’s playing Elland Road or playing some pub, I just love it’