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Review: Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2022

Carrie Humphries


Summer festival season is upon us, and Radio 1’s Big Weekend kicked it off in style by descending upon the UK’s City of Culture, Coventry, for three days of music at War Memorial Park. The 80,000 revellers that attended were lucky enough to see huge names such as Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, Calvin Harris and Harry Styles for the bargain price of just over £20 per day.

There were glowsticks at the ready on Friday night, as fans enjoyed some of the finest names in dance music including Disclosure, Pete Tong and Prospa. Back to back sets from Jaguar and Absolute, and Shermanology and Eats Everything were delightful, as two different artists swapped between each other’s song choices. However, one of the most beautiful moments occurred during Ben Hemsley and LP Giobbi’s set, as vocalist Bklava made an appearance to sing Sinner.

Ed Sheeran opened the Saturday with a strong performance on the Main Stage; but I feel that he was outshone by Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid, whose seamlessly enchanting set in the Future Sounds tent left everyone wanting more. Rapper KSI kept the Future Sounds tent bouncing, but I was surprised that there was not an appearance during his performance from Anne Marie, or vice-versa during her set later in the day, as they have teamed up previously for Don’t Play.

In the evening we were treated to a raucous set from Yungblud on the Main Stage, who had the audience singing and jumping throughout as he performed The Funeral, Parents, and Fleabag, to name but a few. Ivor Novello winning songwriter Sam Fender topped the Future Sounds tent with a charming performance. Spit of You, Will We Talk? and Seventeen Going Under may well have been played on repeat during the last few years, but there is just something so magical and timeless in his songwriting and live performance that means a Sam Fender show never gets old. At the Main Stage, the audience was also treated to hit after hit from Scottish superstar Calvin Harris, as the night ended on a euphoric bang with some beautiful fireworks.

Sunday saw George Ezra opening the main stage, while indie-rock duo Wet Leg showed the Future Sounds tent why they are the ones to watch in 2022, with a quick wit and catchy songs that grab your attention. Another brilliant newcomer on the Future Sounds stage was Alfie Templeman, whose uplifting indie-pop vibes put everyone in a good mood for the day. On the Main Stage, local(ish) singer Becky Hill gave a fierce performance, accompanied by some super sassy backing dancers, while pop icon Mabel’s soaring vocals and dance routines owned the stage.

Some of the best performances on Sunday happened on the BBC Introducing Stage, showcasing some of the best new artists. Leicester rapper Queen Millz was a breath of fresh air, with edgy lyrics and an exciting show; I can see she will be a huge name during the next few years. British rock band Crawlers also seem set for greatness too, after their boisterous performance. Lucky fans were treated to a stripped-back surprise set from Brit Award winner Tom Walker too, which was really something special.

Fans were also spoiled for choice on Sunday evening, with amazing sets from Holly Humberstone and Foals in the Future Sounds tent, and Chase and Status, Lorde and Harry Styles on the Main Stage. Headliner Harry did not disappoint, as he took to the stage with utter gusto in a purple sequined jumpsuit. We were treated to all the hits, including Watermelon Sugar, Adore You, and As It Was; but it was when he performed a cover of his old band One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful that it showed how he has come on as a true entertainer, performing with all the swagger of artists from the 1970s.

Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2022 may be over, but it was the perfect way for the festival season to kick off after these two long years.

Catch all the action from Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Coventry across BBC TV, radio and online

Photograph: 2022 © Copyright BBC Pictures