“This set has gone far too quickly for my liking,” grins Becky, and she’s not the only one hungry for more.
Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Frances Beach.
Reading Festival has flirted with big, mainstage pop moments in recent years – Dua Lipa in 2018, Mimi Webb earlier this weekend – but today’s Becky Hill set feels like a huge moment for both her and the festival. Playing before headliners Imagine Dragons on the festival’s Main Stage West, she throws everything at it.
Opener ‘Crazy What Love Can Do’ is the sort of upbeat earworm that instantly brings the gargantuan crowd together, while the sleek ‘Gecko (Overdrive)’ is backed by a flurry of fireworks. The show also features a gang of dancers, backing singers as well as a brass and string section that gives her fizzing pop a hefty weight. Headliners have put in less effort.
Today’s set clearly means a lot to Becky, and she takes a moment after each song to take in the sheer spectacle of this sunset slot. Fighting back tears, she tells the crowd how overwhelming the gig is (“I cried at Glasto, I’m not crying here”) and she thanks the festival for giving her this platform to “show the world what I can do.”
And what she can do is throw one almighty party. Promising “bangers after banger”, it’s a crowd-pleasing, career-spaning set that never feels anything less than euphoric. ‘Disconnect’, her recent collab with Chase & Status, is a chunky drum & bass number while a hectic ‘Afterglow’ still packs a punch after ten years. “I’m nearly 30, which is old in pop world” explains Becky, who wrote the track when she was 19, but it feels like the best is yet to come. Case in point, unreleased track ‘Never Be Alone’ is soulful, agile but still goes hard. It’s emotional dance music that doesn’t shy away from ambitious big steps, which is apparently the vibe for her new album, due next year.
A closing trio of ‘Wish You Well’, ‘Lose Control’ and ‘Remember’ are frantic, but feel good with the entire crowd singing along to those big, delicious pop hooks. “This set has gone far too quickly for my liking,” grins Becky, and she’s not the only one hungry for more.