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WPGM Reviews: Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2022

Coventry, this year’s city of culture was the place to be for Radio One’s Big Weekend 2022.

Thousands of people made their way to War Memorial Park to kick off what was to be just one memorable weekend of 2022. With Big Weekend being one of the first festivals to begin the festival season, the excitement from the fans, artists and Radio One presenters was unmatched.

We Plug Good Music headed down to the final day of the festival to review some of the artists on this year’s lineup including the one and only Harry Styles, the charismatic George Ezra and the phenomenal Lorde.

Opening up on the main stage was George Ezra. As the sun shone down, there were smiles all around as he kicked things off with “Anyone For You”. From his catchy songs, genuine crowd interactions, his talented band and his obvious love for being on stage, George Ezra was the perfect act to get things started.

Mixing his set with a variety of older tracks including “Barcelona”, slowing things down with “Hold My Girl”, before bringing it back to “Green Green Grass”, there were songs for everyone to scream lyrics to this Sunday afternoon. It wouldn’t be a George Ezra show without the fan favourite “Budapest’.

There wasn’t a song sung where there wasn’t an infectious smile lit up on his face. Bringing his set to a close with “Shotgun”, filled with an explosion of blue confetti spreading amongst the crowd, it was the last chance for people to give it their all before there was a well deserved round of applause and cheer as George said his goodbyes, waved and gave thanks to the people of Coventry.

Introducing Alfie Templeman to the Future Sound stage was Radio One’s very own, Jack Saunders. Alfie and his band were ready to do things the right way, with “Colour Me Blue”. From the very second they stepped foot in front of the crowd, a wave of excitement filled the room. A sea of people filled the tent. As Alfie looked amongst the crowd, a smile beamed.

“Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody” was a fan favourite, with everyone singing back every chorus and clapping along. Looking around, it was evident that everyone was having a lot of fun which was pretty much the whole vibe for Alfie’s set.

With a mixture of newer songs and older tracks, it wouldn’t be an Alfie Templeman show if “Happiness In Liquid Form” wasn’t a part of the setlist. It was all about having fun and with an upbeat and energetic song, it was the perfect way to bring it to a close.

Joy Crookes‘ stage presence as she walked into the stage was felt from the audience. Everyone knew from the smile that appeared on her face, she was loving every second of being up on that stage, looking at the crowd there to see her perform. Joy’s flawless vocals filled the tent with every song she sang.

Crowd participation was encouraged for the song “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”, which many recognised from the 2022 FIFA Soundtrack. There was just all around good vibes when it came to her set. Everyone was chilled out, swaying and loving every minute of Joy’s incredible set.

Everything fit perfectly into place. From her outfit and genuine love for music, grabbing the crowd’s attention till the very end, it was a strong performance and one that did deserve the loud round of applause that was given after she sang “When You Were Mine”.

Raw emotion, powerful and multi-layered are just some ways to describe Dermot Kennedy’s performance on the Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining down on the people of Coventry as he made his way to the front of the stage. With his ever-so-talented band, Irish charm and mighty vocals, Dermot Kennedy was ready.

With the crowd singing along to songs including “Power Over Me” and “Glory”, loud applauses followed every song performed and a sense of unity was present. So much emotion ran through Demot’s lyrics that it was hard for anyone not to feel something when they were sung. He captivated the audience with his musicianship while delivering song after song.

The set list was compiled with hits including “Outnumbered” from his debut album ‘Without Fear’, as well as newer releases including “Something to Someone” which brought Dermot’s time at Big Weekend to an end. He put on an unforgettable performance and put his heart and soul into it.

It’s the genuine emotion and love for music that shone through as Holly Humberstone gave the audience a breathtaking show. Crowd interaction was just as important, as she came across personable and thankful that she gets to do this as a career.

Opening with “Vanilla”, it was clear that this was to be a memorable set. The audience sang back every word, which Holly was impressed by. With a smile on her face, up next was “Overkill”, a relatable, warm song about falling in love for the first time. For Holly to see people singing back songs she had written and was finally able to get back on a UK stage after spending time in the States was something she did not take for granted.

The soft piano track, “London Is Lonely” was a cinematic experience, something you would hear in a rom-com. Before closing the set with “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”, Humberstone gave thanks to everyone who took time to see her perform. With it being the first half of the year, it will be exciting to see what’s next in store for Holly Humberstone.

From the stage setup resembling a sundial and the outfits worn on stage, to the energy from herself and the crowd, it was an experience to witness Lorde back on UK soil and providing an amazing show for Radio One’s Big Weekend.

As the sundial changes, out appeared Lorde and the show began. It was no surprise that the crowd gave a loud and excited round of applause/cheer when she opened with “The Path”. Not missing a lyric, while singing along to songs including “The Louvre”, “Homemade Dynamite”, “Secrets From A Girl”.

Throughout the set, Lorde interacts with the audience by informing them of meanings and stories behind some of the songs, as well as her growth over the years. Not to forget Lorde’s majestic early track, “Royals” performed confidently.

When it came to the breakdown of “Ribs”, there wasn’t one person standing still. The latter end of the set was met with cheers for “Green Light”. It wasn’t over until “Solar Power”. Lorde’s set felt triumphant. Performing with such power, free reign and confidence, there’s only room for one Lorde.

The time had finally come for Harry Styles to do what he does best, put on a show- stopping performance. The crowd was left in suspense until he took to the stage. Screams and applauses erupted from every corner of Coventry’s Memorial Park.

Coming in with hit after hit, including “Golden”, “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore You”, passionate fans sang back every single lyric for every song and that didn’t go unnoticed by Harry. He took time to say his thanks for the audience for just being there to watch his set. Tracks from his latest album, Harry’s House, went down just as well as older songs.

Not forgetting where he came from, Harry treated fans to a a solo rendition of One Direction’s hit, “What Makes You Beautiful”. The atmosphere was what was to be expected at any Harry Styles show. Everyone was just appreciative of being able to witness such an amazing show, one which was evident that Styles was enjoying every second of.

“As It Was”, just like all the others, had everyone dancing and singing along. There were times where the crowd nearly drowned out Styles’ vocals. And just like that, the show was coming to a close. But not until “Sign Of The Times” and “Kiwi” were performed. No better way to rock out at a pop show.

A sense of unity, inclusion and a whole lot of fun is what is expected when witnessing Harry Styles on stage, giving it his all. He proves he is capable of electrifying a crowd from the very first second. It was a moment of genuine triumph and one to be proud of.

Words by Sarah Akomanyi // Photo Credit: BBC Rewind

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