Despite the rain falling hard and fast onsite at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in Norwich, the second day of the festival was one full of anticipation ahead of the arrival of Taylor Swift to Norwich. Perhaps perfectly timed by the universe, the clouds cleared and the sun emerged to beam down upon the incredibly large crowd just in time for Swift's performance that cemented her dominance as the biggest and best popstar in the world right now.
Having conquered the charts, Clean Bandit made sure everyone was dancing as if there were no tomorrow, playing tracks from their debut album 'New Eyes' as well as bringing out the incredibly talented Rae Morris to perform collaboration 'Up Again'. Violinist Neil Milan brought out his trademark dance moves as he bounded about the stage like he was headlining.
Rae Morris performing onstage with Clean Bandit at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend. Image from the BBC
Gaining exposure at such an early stage of an artists' career brings with it an incredible weight of exepctation, and Irish singer-songwriter SOAK showed signs of nerves as the usually chatty performer kept talking to a minimum as they delivered heartbreakingly beautiful odes that would have you think she was much older than her young years. Channelling the raw emotion of legends such as Tom Waits. 'Be A Nobody' and 'Blud' brought the In New Music We Trust stage to a stunned silence, as the audience became visibly introspective about what these songs that many had perhaps never heard before made them feel.
SOAK bringing the In New Music We Trust Stage to a standstill
As a self confessed pop music sceptic, it was with trepidation that Rita Ora's set was approached. But such scpeticism was unfounded, as Ora delivered one of the highlights of the weekend. However you may want to criticise artists who perhaps don't have total creative input when making music, there is no denying that Rita Ora can sing. Really sing. Her set was heavy with hits from across her already impressive career and tracks such as 'Doing It' and 'RIP' went down an absolute storm with the age spanning crowd. Pop music at it's finest.
As the sun peered out from behind the clouds, Jungle took to the In New Music We Trust Stage to kickstart the carnival atmosphere ready for the night ahead. 'Busy Earnin' 'Time' and 'Julia' amongst many others had the tent bursting at the seems with people dancing and partying their way through a set that felt very much like a victory lap for a band that experienced runaway success across last year's festival circuit.
How does one describe James Bay? Well according to more than a few people poised to see him, he falls somewhere between "the most beautiful man in the world" and "his face was carved by angels" which when coupled with his amazing voice and melodies shows exactly why he was deserving of this year's BRIT Awards Critics Choice Award. 'Hold Back The River' and 'Let It Go' erupt massive crowd singalongs that are almost loud enough to drown out Bay's own voice.
One name has been synonomous with this year's Big Weekend. You might have heard of her before? She likes to shake it off with fellas with hella good hair and recently she unveiled an already iconic video seeing her army of powerful ladies do battle against the forces of evil. Still unsure who it is? It can only be Taylor Swift.
Introduced by a BBC Radio 1 listener who won the opportunity to welcome Swiftie to Norwich, Taylor was greeted by screams of 'TAYLOR! TAYLOR!' as she emerged in a decadent sparkly outfit to reminds us all what a star she is. Opening with 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together', the next 40 minutes passed like some sort of euphoric chorus direct from the heavens. There were lifelong Swifites rubbing shoulders with recent converts following the release of '1989'. Strangers became friends over a shared love of shaking it off and that is exactly the kind of slap in the face that any present music snobs needed because in case you didn't get the memo; life's too short to be hating on someone as perfectly brilliant aas Taylor Swift. Ya hear?!
The beauty of BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, is that you don't get just one globe conquering act in a day. Oh no, you get TWO! Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters never thought he'd get to say Taylor Swift was his opening act which was greeted with thunderous cheers from a crowd who have grown up with his mighty powerhouse of a band.
Playing to a crowd of die hard Taylor Swift fans was never going to be an easy for a band who fall on the total opposite side of the music spectrum. But the appeal of the Foos is twofold – first you have the anthem after anthem back catologue of tracks such as 'Walk' and 'Congregation' and then secondly you have the heart warming personality of Dave Grohl that feels like you and he have been friends for decades.
The euphoria washing over Earlham Park throughout 'Times Like These' induces a swelling of happiness and warmth in the heart of everybody onsite. Closing with a spectacular firework display, Big Weekend closed it's doors for another year and as the crowds poured away from the site in Norwich, there really was a collective consensus that this was without a doubt the biggest Big Weekend there has ever been.