Playing his second sold out show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on the eve of his 24th birthday, Stormzy was always going to make this one memorable.
While the UK grime MC has been to Australia before, he hasn’t been since grime has become one of the most popular live music genres in the country. He’s the first grime artist since 2010 to play a sold out show at the Enmore (Skepta sold it out last year but was unable to make the trip to Australia) which is appropriate given that he’s the best new MC in the genre we’ve seen since then. Even so, in 2010, Dizzee was touring his pop-leaning record Tongue N’ Cheek though while Stormzy’s debut Gangs Signs & Prayer is firmly planted in grime, albeit peppered with a plethora of other genres.
Stormzy’s tall figure gives him a presence anytime he enters any room but he also had this certain strut when he entered the stage to thundering applause that made it immediately clear he was the conductor of the night. He stood up the very front of the stage and roamed from side-to-side, not only staring the front row in the eye but also giving the nosebleed section attention as he powered through First Things First.
From the get-go, he united his “energy crew” and used every break in between songs to swell the chaos, filling the Enmore with more hysteria than we’ve seen in a very long time. Cold had people yelling back, “I should call the next one freezing,” Mr. Skeng effortlessly recreated the grassroots vibe of his initial freestyle vids and Bad Boys brought a danger and strength to the night despite Stormzy’s usually jovial demeanour.
While most MCs save the quieter moments for their album, Stormzy knows that part of his appeal is how multi-dimensional he is so he made sure to make the slower moments just as big a spectacle as the fast ones. He perched on the front of the stage for Blinded By Your Grace and told the crowd to lose themselves in the moment regardless of their faith as he added gospel flavours to the night. Cigarettes & Cush also added a much needed tender moment that proved it’s the next most likely hit off his debut record.
Stormzy’s banter is just as good as his bars and he had the audience in stitches at numerous points throughout. He covered up his first on-stage slip by saying it was all part of the act, he threw shade at any guy who thought they were too manly to sing to the slower songs and he roasted a punter who told him not to play his remix of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You on Twitter earlier in the day. “Whoever you are, you are a cunt and we’re going to play it anyway,” he said, proving that Stormzy’s got zero time for snobbery. That’s part of what Stormzy’s appeal is. He’s so diverse that he’s able to feature on a Giggs track and then dart over to a Little Mix song without confusing or dividing.
When it came to celebrating his birthday, he looked genuinely flattered when the crowd broke into an impromptu ‘Happy Birthday’ for him. Moments before that, he completed a shoey out of his white Yeezy which may be the most brilliant adaption of the Aussie tradition yet. Then, when the mood was at an all time high, he launched into Big For Your Boots giving the Enmore Theatre’s rubbery floor more bounce than it’s ever had. He gave zero opportunity for the mood to dip, forgoing an encore to complete a trifecta of roof raising music completed by Know Me From and Shut Up. With a smile plastered on his face, he left the stage at the night’s peak having given everybody what they exactly wanted.
Not only is he the greatest British MC in the world right now, he could be coming for the US giants like Kendrick and Drake soon too.