This bank holiday weekend marked so much more than simply the end of the month of May. For so many music fans across the land, Radio 1’s two day event kicked off this year’s festival season; and the strength of the line-up powered the bar into the cloudless Devon sky.
There was no testing the water, no timid toe-dipping; Craig David packed the ‘In New Music We Trust’ tent till the seams were splitting. From then onwards, the level of performance rose exponentially. Twenty One Pilots’ rebellious set was cut short after Tyler Joseph lived up to his daredevil reputation, scaling the stage rigging and perching at the summit, microphone still in hand.
With big-league guests Paloma Faith and Take That, Sigma oversaw a controlled detonation of the Main Stage that blew the level up a notch or ten. Back over in the ‘INMWT’ tent, a migration of bodies prepared for what proved to be one of the weekend’s biggest talking points. From the back of the big-top, the view of Stormzy was perfectly clear through thousands of phone screens Snapchatting the past year’s biggest UK grime artist. Following up such a big performance was synthpop sweetheart Lauren Mayberry fronting CHVRCHES, who gave an excitable performance; setting the stage for another of the weekend’s most notable sets. Tame Impala‘s trippy visuals and absorbing psychedelia encompassed a true festival feel; bright colours, confetti explosions and excellently played music to which the crowd joined in a collective groove.
Saturday’s programme drew to an end on the mainstage, as Chase and Status united upwards of 15,000 fans for a turbulent 40 minutes of classic electro-D&B anthems, before Mumford and Sons showed off their prowess as so much more than the country banjo slapper stereotype they’ve become synonymous with.
Sunday morning came around with the sun in the sky and hangovers galore across Powderham’s grounds, and One Republic brought the spirits of those hangers back to cloud nine with a brilliant showman’s performance from frontman Ryan Tedder. The sheer magnitude of acts for the Big Weekend’s second day showed off Radio 1’s ability to put on a remarkable event, as Catfish and the Bottlemen, The 1975 and The Last Shadow Puppets all gave the kind of performances up-and-coming bands aspire to. The diversity of acts is clearly Big Weekend’s biggest selling point – who can turn down the option to walk five minutes from the madness of Skepta to the overjoyed pop-performance of Ellie Goulding… and all for free.
A crazy weekend of live music was brought to an exceedingly crazy conclusion. Biffy Clyro filled up the ‘INMWT’ tent more than anyone else over the two days, and their cataclysmic performance proved why they’re regarded as one of the world’s finest live performers. As the sun set over the litter strewn fields of Exeter, there was only one place to be – Chris Martin’s homecoming show with Coldplay was a memorable affair, including an emotional rendition of Prince‘s ‘Raspberry Beret’, a blanket of torches covering the crowd throughout ‘The Scientist’, and a magical outro with fireworks and confetti stars floating through the air. A fittingly extravagant ending to an overwhelmingly big weekend.