Little Simz, British music’s most famous introvert, lights up the West Holts stage on Friday night. The rapper crowns a whirlwind six months since the release of her latest, much heralded, album with the headline slot on the most intimate of Glastonbury’s three main stages. Captivating a raptuorous crowd with her seductive blend of grime, funk and soul, the north-London native confirms her star status.
Simz, who started out rapping in the school playground, steps into the limelight several mixtapes and a top-five album later at Worthy Farm. She’s dressed in a bright red bomber jacket, with her hair piled high and black sunglasses framing her face. Emblazoned on the back of her seemingly demure black shirt is a demonic horned creature. Below her in the packed crowd, people jostle for a glimpse of Glastonbury’s new queen.
The set begins with the electrifying drama – a flair that surely came in handy for her pivotal role in Netflix’s Top Boy – of her single “Introvert”. It speaks to her struggle to understand and convey her introverted nature: “I was anxious about this gig,” she later confesses, a brief look of bewilderment and triumph crossing her face, “but I’m having an amazing time up here”.
She traverses the musical spectrum seamlessly, moving from vintage funk and silky soul back to grime, trap and intoxicating R&B. But it isn’t just her raw musicality that inspires such devotion: the bittersweet confessional nature of her lyrics elevates her to the role of poet and 21st-century storyteller. On tracks such as the jaggedly emotive “I Love You, I Hate You”, she addresses her absent father, laying bare her heartbreak across a grooving, uplifted bass line.
Moving into a soulful mode, she’s joined on stage by her albumc collaborator Cleo Sol. “We got some bangers for you,” Simz proclaims, before launching into “Woman”, a soothing, jazz-inflected paean. Her typically silky bars are delivered over shuffling percussion and bright sparks of synth.
“How did you get here?” she asks, pondering her own ascent to Glastonbury stage headliner. Her set is answer enough. As the lights of Worthy Farm go dark for the night, Little Simz’s star is shining brighter than ever.