The Texan hip-hop sensation made history too by becoming the event’s first black female co-headliner. [Photo: BBC News]
Dave rapped on stage with a delighted fan while becoming Leeds Festival’s youngest ever headliner on Saturday.
“I feel like I should share this moment with one of you guys for the final time,” said the 24-year-old Londoner.
He then brought out an energetic young Merseysider, à la viral sensation Alex from Glastonbury several years ago, to perform the track Thiago Silva.
Earlier, US star Megan Thee Stallion invited “hot girls and guys” from the audience up for a dirty dance-off.
The Texan hip-hop sensation made history too by becoming the event’s first black female co-headliner.
Dave is a born story-teller and clearly now made for the main stage.
He arrived wearing a matching green vest top and shorts, with a “Psycho” cap on, and backed by a marching band with added strings and brass, situated behind a big metal heart-shaped cage, he began to tell his truth.
“It’s been a long road,” he said. “I want to take you guys on a journey.”
Stopping only briefly due to a safety concern in the crowd, he coolly performed songs from his Mobo Award-winning recent record We’re All Alone in this Together, one of the biggest-selling albums of the year, which tackles themes of loneliness, mental health and racism in the UK.
As well as material from his Brit Award and Mercury Prize-winning album Psychodrama (hence the cap), which explores issues around grief, domestic abuse and his brother’s incarceration.
There were good time vibes though, and early in the set he turned Saturday night in west Yorkshire into a Funky Friday, delivering his number one hit.
Then came the moment of the night. After his band played a snippet of The White Stripes anthem Seven Nation Army, up came a “buzzing” bare-chested young fan who said he had been waiting for seven hours in the hope of being selected.
“You nearly got me up in Newcastle,” he revealed, excitedly. Then addressing the crowd, added: “I’ve been a fan of Dave for so long, I’ve been to three of his shows, I’ve been on tour with him… well, not with him!”
After going bar for bar with his hero twice, drawing loud cheers, he stopped for a quick selfie video and disappeared off into the night.
The limelight then fell back on the headliner, who let fans, old and new, into the secrets of his songwriting process, while switching between the piano and guitar. “Music is my way of communicating,” he explained. “I’m not that good at speaking.”
There were camera phones held aloft for as far as the eye could see as he ripped into his Stormzy collaboration Clash.
Unlike at Reading, Leeds’ sister festival, the night before, there was no cameo from last year’s headliner, however. Though it didn’t really matter, this was Dave’s night. “It’s one of the greatest honours in all of our lives,” he beamed on behalf of himself and his band.
Speaking to Radio 1’s Newsbeat in December, Dave said headlining a major event like Reading and Leeds would be a completely different challenge and experience to anything he has done before, promising “the highest quality production value that I can”.
It was a promise he very much kept. Marking another big moment for UK grime and rap.