While the Pyramid Stage fills for Billie Eilish’s high-octane energy, Little Simz is bringing a more subtle kind of catharsis. If Lenny Henry was concerned about Glastonbury’s diversity, he wouldn’t be particularly comforted by the crowd at the West Holts tonight (June 25), but the atmosphere still feels like something of a family reunion — people hugging and passing blunts, new friendships blossoming through proximity and cultural exchange.
“It’s a people’s paradise,” beams one woman standing next to NME, gazing around her peers in awe. She isn’t wrong: it’s a cold evening, but Glastonbury always finds a way to bring the warmth.
When Simbi arrives, this laidback atmosphere doesn’t shift as much as it perhaps should. Striding out to Emma Corrin’s spoken word interlude ‘The Rapper Who Came To Tea’, she plunges straight into ‘Introvert’, its grandiose intro built exactly for occasions like this. A flawless ‘Two Worlds Apart’ follows, and then ‘I Love You, I Hate You’: they’re both among the strongest cuts from her latest record ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’, but even near the barrier crowd chit-chat feels just as audible as the singing, diminishing her brilliance to background noise. It is so much less that Simz deserves: with her potent blend of style, smarts and sheer breath control, only the rarest bar is sacrificed in her bid to deliver the total package.
Ever the professional, no lack of crowd attentiveness will get in the way of her blessings. “Lot of people here innit?” she smiles. “Sick! I’m telling ya, I’m just getting warmed up.” The baseline of ‘Might Bang, Might Not’, lit in flashing red and blue, brings plentiful heat, as does ‘101FM’, acres of gun fingers held aloft.
Before a thumping ‘Protect My Energy’, she gives a spoken word introvert-themed freestyle, but has to pause to ask the crowd to “shut the fuck up and read the room”. They thankfully get the message, staying relatively quiet for a beautiful sat-down acoustic version of ‘I See You’ and an unnamed brand new song, mentioning both the Saturn return and the pressure put on artists by “those living the corporate life”: “I can see how an artist gets tainted/they don’t care if your mental is on the breaking as long as you’re coming with the payslip.”
In volunteering such honesty, Simz is finally given her flowers of applause, stretching out to greet her career-retrospective, ‘How Did You Get Here’. A song about “hard work, sticking at something, dedication”, her whole family are at the side of the stage, and she looks to them as she sings its framing lines: “Amount of people that told me no and I turned that into my fuel… But trust me, this music ‘ting is my prophecy.” Collaborator Cleo Sol joins her for ‘Selfish’ and ‘Woman’, and just like that, the prophecy is complete, confidence unwavering.
“See you next time on the Pyramid!” she waves, slipping happily into the night. If you’re looking for a future festival headliner, Simz knows that she has exactly what it takes. When her audience fully catches up, this introvert will be unstoppable.
Check back at NME here throughout the weekend for the latest news, reviews, interviews, photos and more from Glastonbury 2022.