Photo By Sam Wall
Finally, after a 2-year wait due to Covid, Stormzy headed out on his tour for his album ‘Heavy Is The Head’. On the second night of the tour, he performed at Utiltia Arena, Newcastle.
Having bought the tickets two years ago, the night couldn't come quick enough.
My hotel was next to the arena, so seeing the queue growing and people arriving made me more and more excited by the minute. I headed to the arena around 6:30, security and checks were done very quickly, so I made it in with still an hour to spare till the support act. When I got into standing, I managed to grab the barrier, which shocked me as I never expected to get it.
At around 7:30, Rachel Anson, who is Stormzys sister, headed out on the runway along with host “Deck One Deck Two”. It felt more special and a more family show because of it being his sister as the support act. Her DJ set blew the roof off the arena, the songs she was playing just kept on getting better. She played songs by a variety of artists, some included: Drake, Rihanna, Snoop Dog, Aitch and even Bob Marley.
The crowd throughout her set was wild. From where I was standing, I could see that everyone was on their feet dancing and singing along. Having her as the support act was the best decision as the atmosphere never left the crowd even after her performance had ended.
The 30-minute wait before Stormzy seemed to just fly by. Just after 9 pm, the room plunged into darkness and the green ‘HITH’ sheet that was hiding the stage was pulled down. The stage was filled with flashing lights, where then the visuals on the screen began. The backdrop started to open up where there then stood Stormzy on a raised platform singing ‘Big Michael’. Even just from that one song, I knew I was in for an unforgettable night.
‘Know Me From’ genuinely did light up the place. The performance of that song had amazing visuals, flames and even fireworks. Throughout the night new things kept happening that shocked me every time.
Stormzy stunned me with every song he sang. He sang songs from his first album “Gang Signs & Prayers” as well as from his second album “Heavy Is The Head”. Every song has a meaning and a message, as well as personal experiences from him, so to be able to hear these live and see and hear what he has been through does bring a tear to your eye. All through the night, he took the time to thank everyone for still being here after holding onto tickets for two years.
"A lot of you bought a ticket two years ago, so to see you here today is a surreal thing," he said.
"So even driving to the arena and seeing everybody waiting outside, I was like, 'We're still here man, we're still alive.' I love you guys.” You could see by his reaction during and after every song, how shocked he was by everyone still supporting him.
He also declares “We're going to create some memories tonight, I want everyone to leave here with a little bit of joy in their heart."
Photo By Sam Wall
During the set, he announced a third album by playing a compilation of videos he had made during the making of the upcoming album. It felt special for us fans to hear about it first before social media.
One of my favourite songs that he performed was “Crown”, the visuals and the moving parts he had were unbelievable. The crown that shone and came down over his head was something else. Tracks such as: “Own It”, “Big For Your Boots”, “Shut Up”, were just a few that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Throughout Stormzy was on high form, and turned the entire arena into a massive grime party.
The final song “Vossi Bop” went out with a bang, quite literally. Fireworks and confetti filled the arena, I was covered in it, but that may have been because I was standing right next to it.
After the music had finished and the lights went up, Stormzy climbed off the stage and came along everyone in the crowd and spent time with people who had waited two years to see him. He was shaking hands, taking selfies for as long as his security allowed. It was a sign of gratitude, as he knows if it wasn't for the fans, he wouldn't be where he is today.
I have been a great fan of Stormzy for many years so being able to see him live was incredible and because my night was so unbelievable, I then went on to buy tickets to see him again in Manchester.
Article By Tiarna Iddon - Photography By Sam Wall