BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Online 2020
Although there’s nothing quite like seeing your favourite artists live, BBC Radio 1 brings some of the world’s biggest musicians to the comfort of your home through their virtual festival.
Sam Smith dedicates his set to frontline workers risking themselves during the pandemic, stating: “you are saving our lives every single day.” The soul singer begins with Stay With Me while sitting at a microphone in his minimal living room. The pre-recorded piano melodies accompany crystalline vocals supported by backing singers. A definite highlight of his brief set is Dancing With A Stranger, which is rendered emotionally – typical of Smith’s music. How Do You Sleep reveals just why the singer is so popular. Its lyrics are both catchy and relatable, and the gentle guitar strumming takes us into the moving melody but without the electronic dance element. Singing grand ballads, Smith remains at the top of his game, and his set shows that his musical strength continues to rise.
Supported by session musicians, Anne-Marie takes us down memory lane with her nostalgic track 2002 (from Speak Your Mind, 2018) sampling Britney Spears’s Baby One More Time and Nelly’s Ride Wit Me. Musical accompaniment comes in the form of a guitar, drums and a keyboard, as well as two vocalists. Dedicating the next song to everyone celebrating birthdays during lockdown like herself, she performs the festive and triumphant eponymously titled song. Giggling in between verses, Marie’s delight is infectious – she even cheekily references the Big Weekend.
Opening with hit single Charlemagne, Blossoms’ performance is playful and relaxed. For Girlfriend, the percussionist humorously snips a pair of scissors and taps on a glass vase – much like foley artists – and slides on the keytar, accentuating the summery and 80s vibes of one of the band’s best tracks. Vocalist Tom Ogden’s Labrador sleeps next to him, and it is nice to see the group’s personal abodes where much of their creativity occurs. The Stockport-based five-piece love listening to ABBA, and you can really hear that influence in Oh No (I Think I’m in Love) from their debut album Foolish Loving Spaces.
British rap-duo Aitch and AJ Tracey bring their blend of catchy beats and fast lyrics to the festival while keeping to the social distancing rules: Aitch performs in Manchester and Tracey from a rooftop in London. Similar to many of the other artists, the music is pre-recorded, but the vocals are live. Their hit single Rain sets things off, and it sounds as if these guys have been around for a while, even though they are fairly new to the scene. Fellow rapper MoStack features on Dinner Guest – a deep house, addictive track that’s ideal for the long summer days.
Photo: BBC Radio 1
For further information and future events visit BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend’s website here.
Watch Sam Smith perform Dancing With A Stranger here: