TRNSMT Friday, Glasgow Green ****
Here, the mere absence of Stormzy’s Banksy-designed Union flag stab vest dialed down that set’s sense of era-capturing tension; instead, on a clear, warm summer’s night in Glasgow, he came dressed all in white and ready for a party in keeping with the spirit of the festival. “F***in’ hell, I knew this show was gonna be crazy,” he gasped, seemingly astonished by the level of response received.
Stormzy’s set was perfectly pitched, retaining a rap show’s personalised focus upon its sole creator, while embellishing just enough with a gospel choir and some minimalist backing visuals. Blinded By Your Grace Part 1 and Crown bore a weary but resolute edge to their soulful arrangements, both perfectly in step with the times; Big for Your Boots rode a fierce grime energy; and there were extremely crowd-pleasing covers of “my brother Ed” Sheeran’s Shape of You and – unexpectedly – Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved.
“Lewis Capaldi is a bad boy, you tell him that,” smiled Stormzy, although he’d won the crowd long before he proclaimed solidarity with their fellow Scot. Perhaps the only thing he could have done for a more successful set would have been to cover his predecessor on the main stage Gerry Cinnamon, whose sets at TRNSMT – his home town festival – have become the stuff of legend on the Scottish music scene.
Also a solo performer, except with a guitar which appeared to be causing him problems, Gerry drew a crowd as big as Stormzy’s and worked it with every bit as much joyful confidence, playing fan favourites like the joking Canter and euphoric rave tribute Discoland alongside nostalgic new track The Bonny. “It’ll take more than a wee broken guitar to stop us up here, but,” he buzzed, as smoke in green, gold and blue – colours which rarely unite in Glasgow – wafted in the air.
Elsewhere on the main stage, the silken electronic pop of Years & Years suggested future headline material, while the spirited rap of AJ Tracey compensated for the cancellation of Stormzy acolyte Fredo; his place was taken by Glasgow rapper Chlobocop. Example was a party-starting headliner on the King Tut’s stage, although the much-debated Queen Tut’s stage was a small and modest affair, despite the presence of real talents including Lauren Spiteri, niece of Sharleen, and the pleasing soulful harmonies of electropop duo Lunir. - David Pollock