This weekend, we’re ‘on the ground’ at Reading 2022. Featuring some of the biggest and most exciting bands and artists on the planet, alongside the buzziest new acts, we’ll be bringing you coverage of everything you need to know. That includes photos of all the key sets, including these snaps of Dave, who took to the Main Stage East on Friday (26th August).
As the youngest solo headliner Reading’s ever had, you could forgive Dave for being a bit nervous. If he’s feeling the pressure, though, he doesn’t show it. Walking on to little fanfare, it’s straight into ‘We’re All Alone’, standing in front of a giant framework heart as the crowd screams every word back at him.
Fireworks are peppered throughout the set, underscoring lines on ‘Professor X’ and smash-hit ‘Funky Friday’, but nothing on display feels like a set from a man with something to prove. Instead, it all has a sense of inevitability to it, and he even manages to pull off a section where he plays electric guitar without it seeming corny.
It’s a testament to UK rap’s mainstream success that booking someone like Dave no longer feels like a risk, and he isn’t forced to bring out a stream of guests to amp up the crowd. Of course, there’s a huge response when AJ Tracey comes bouncing out to rap his verse on ‘Thiago Silva’, and Stormzy’s entrance is greeted with near-hysterics. But there’s just as big a response to ‘Twenty To One’, and the crowd silence while he raps a large portion of ‘Heart Attack’ backed only by violins is genuinely moving.
It’s hard to bring nuance to a set without the slower songs becoming opportunities for fans to go to the bar / toilet / burger stand, especially at a festival where everyone’s been drinking for 12 hours. Not only does Dave manage to hold people’s attention, he does it without gimmicks and with only a little bit of pyro (well, it isn’t a headline set without some fire, is it?)
We’d say he’s confirmed his status as a megastar, but was anyone really expecting any different?