BBC Biggest Weekend review: Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and Years & Years among stars to perform at superb pop festival

What felt like the entire US and UK pop contingent appeared in the Welsh city for a weekend of music in the blazing sun

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 29 May 2018 08:44
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Years and Years, Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello perform at Radio 1's Biggest Weekend

“How’s it going Swansea?!”

There’s something utterly, wonderfully surreal about hearing the biggest pop stars in the world give a shout out to the ugly, lovely town in South Wales. On the BBC’s Biggest Weekend, what felt like the entire US and UK pop contingent gathered to perform over two days in glorious, blazing sunshine that – for anyone who’s ever visited or lived in Swansea – felt nothing short of miraculous.

On the Saturday, Anne-Marie offered a sweet and simple show with music from her debut album Speak Your Mind, while Liam Payne looked about as unenthusiastic as it was possible to be during his set, which included his single “Strip That Down” and a cover of Charlie Puth’s “Attention”.

In contrast his former bandmate Niall Horan, who performed on the Sunday, positively shone with his superb backing band on a tracks like the Fleetwood Mac-esque “She’s On the Loose” or the sultry, if slightly cringey, “Slow Hands”, as did his new bestie Shawn Mendes, who moved fans with a rousing performance of his single “In My Blood”. Rising pop star Camila Cabello turned up the heat with smouldering renditions of some of the best tracks from her debut, self-titled solo album including the mega hit “Havana”, and “She Loves Control”.

Camila was smouldering on Saturday (PA)

Later on the Saturday evening, fans crowded to see an uplifting, nostalgia-fuelled set (for those old enough to remember the lyrics to “Rewind”) from Craig David, before charging over to the “Other” stage to watch Bastille perform their new single “Quarter Past Midnight” with a fantastic gospel choir.

Set times per artist were kept to strict 30-minute slots, which felt a little short when it came to breathtaking performances from the likes of Years & Years or Panic! At The Disco, especially when the US rock band covered Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” complete with pyrotechnics, frontman Brendon Urie nailing both the piano and vocal solos.

Years & Years produced a breathtaking set (Getty)

Battling tough set clashes with Taylor Swift and Christine and the Queens were Welsh rock band Trampolene on the BBC Introducing Stage, who still put on a ferocious, wild show that included frontman Jack Jones’ sharp, hilarity-inducing poem “Poundland” and tracks from their debut album Swansea to Hornsey.

Undoubtedly – and unsurprisingly – the biggest crowd of the weekend was for Swift herself, who flew over from the US to put on a sophisticated, slick set with some of her biggest songs including No 1 hit “Look What You Made Me Do” and an acoustic version of her track “Delicate”, both from her latest album reputation.

A stripped-down “Delicate” offered a touchingly intimate moment between Swift and her fans, before she switched back to a lighter-hearted tone on “Blank Space” with its tongue-in-cheek lyrics warning off a potential suitor. Closing on the joyful “Shake It Off”, Swift proved herself as an undeniable highlight of the weekend.

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