Towards the end of Sigma’s 40-minute set, the crowd are instructed to crouch down then jump up. They duly oblige, popping up like whack-a-moles. It’s a time-honoured trick straight out of the stadium playbook, but Sigma’s set isn’t about originality: it’s mainstream crowd pleasing. And it’s working: the sweaty throng are packed in tighter than clowns in a very small car.
It’s something of a homecoming for production duo Cameron Edwards and Joe Lenzie, who met at Leeds University back in 2006. Not that they’d tell you – so anonymous even their mothers couldn’t pick them out of a police line up, they remain mute behind their laptops, and let their carnival of hype-men, MCs, and larynx -bursting singers provide the frenzy, with “Oggy-oggy-oggy” call-and-responses and invitations to raise hands in the air in the shape of hearts. Opening with their Labrinth collab ‘Higher’, the songs follow a similar pattern: wailing emotive vocals over a tsunami of clattering drum’n’bass beats and drops like an open manhole. Fists pump to the synthetic soul of ‘Glitterball’ and ‘Redemption’, while they also give Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’ and Calvin Harris’s ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ kinetic run-throughs.
A forest of raised iPhones twinkle to the quaking bass of ‘Lighters’, and when Daniel Pearce – erstwhile member of doomed Popstars: The Rivals boyband One True Voice – launches into ‘Nobody To Love’, the 2014 hit responsible for elevating their profile, the pandemonium that greets it makes you realise that as much as you may be tempted to dismiss Sigma’s catalogue as chart-seeking dance missiles, there’s no sound more potent than pop music that’s actually popular.
There are no top-tier guests – neither Rita Ora nor (mercifully) Paloma Faith turn up, which would have provided an ‘event’ feel to proceedings, but even though the touring vocalists have the requisite towering vocal chops, by the time of closer ‘Changing’, they’re practically drowned out by the communal choir anyway.