By Claire Hodgkins
The last weekend in May saw the long awaited return of BBCR1’s Big Weekend – a once-year festival compiled of global superstars, as well as showcasing the best of new emerging talent, in association with BBC Introducing. Due to COVID restrictions, the event last took place at Stewart Park, Middlesborough in 2019. This year, the festival was home to Coventry’s War Memorial Park, also famously home to the annual Godiva Festival.
Over the three days, the festival site welcomed some of the biggest names in music, including headliners: Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, George Ezra and Harry Styles. Kicking things off on the main stage was everyone’s favourite ginger, Ed Sheeran.
Taking to the stage with just a guitar in hand, Sheeran more than compensated for the absence of production (in comparison to later acts) with his undeniable talent. From early hit ‘The A Team’ to the more recent ‘Shivers’, Ed was able to pack a punchy set that covered the entire span of his discography, much to the delight of fans both old and new.
Over at the Future Sounds stage, Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid played to a packed out tent. The 25 year old performed in her staple of blue jeans and a white vest, a refreshing change from the typical bedazzled number you would see a female artist performing in. Singles ‘Don’t Feel Like Crying’ and newly released collab with Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes ‘Bad Life’ went down a treat, and only confirms that Sigrid is more than ready to be playing bigger stages – which I’m sure in no time she won’t be a ‘Stranger(s)’ to.
Throughout the day, War Memorial Park saw phenomenal sets from the likes of Mimi Webb, Anne Marie, Tom Grennan, Yungblud, AJ Tracey and headliners Calvin Harris (Main Stage) and Sam Fender (Future Sounds) – whose performances wrapped up a phenomenal Saturday in Coventry.
A little over 12 hours later, gates opened promptly for another day filled with live music with both artists and fans ready and raring to go. One particular artist was the topic of nearly every conversation, that being of course Ex-One Direction star, Harry Styles who was closing the main stage as part of his run of shows in celebration of his latest release ‘Harry’s House’. Having sold out his One Night Only show at London’s 02 Academy Brixton in minutes, it felt very special for Styles to be gracing the stage in Coventry. Many fans camped out as early as 2 AM for their chance at securing the best spots down the front ahead of his highly anticipated set.
Opening the main stage was crowd pleaser George Ezra and his incredible band – all wearing matching denim outfits. Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers form British Indie Rock band Wet Leg, who got things started over at the Future Sounds stage. Founded in 2019, the band have gone from strength to strength with their debut single ‘Chaise Lounge’ becoming a viral hit in 2021 and their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album reaching number one in the UK. It’s needless to say that the tent was filled to the brim for the talented duo and their headline tour scheduled later in the year is sure to have some sold out dates.
Other artists making an appearance in Coventry on the Sunday included: Alfie Templeman, Mabel, Griff, and Foals. Also due to perform was Charli XCX, who was unfortunately taken ill. Luckily, Chase and Status were on hand to fill the slot.
Taking a break from her ‘Solar Power’ tour, Lorde took the main stage by storm. She even bought her incredible stage set for the occasion which just so happened to be her first festival appearance in a long while. From the jaw dropping production, to the powerful vocals Lorde was the perfect warmup for headline act, Harry Styles.
At approximately 21:20, Styles walked onto the stage with his guitar in hand to the warmest welcome. Raised in Redditch, this would be the closest to a hometown show for the Ex One Direction member. Playing through hit singles ‘Golden’, ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and latest release ‘As It Was’ fans were in for a real treat. Closing with the track ‘Kiwi’ from his debut self-titled album, Styles delivered a beautifully executed 12 song set that will for sure have Coventry talking for quite some time.