Arise! Dental hygiene-espousing Queen of Grime Lady Leshurr slayed her Leeds festival slot this today (August 27). Here’s how:
As entrances go, Lady Leshurr’s is brilliantly audacious. Fresh from gracing NME’s cover this week, she arrives onstage after a brief delay to the heraldic sound of the National Anthem. As the orchestral ‘God Save The Queen’ thunders over the teeming BBC 1Xtra tent, there’s such good-time vibes that even Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t be able to resist singing and dad-shuffling along. Backed by two body-popping dancers with ‘Queen’ emblazoned over their crop tops, she hypes up the young crowd with House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ and the ubiquitous festival chant-a-long Tag Team’s ‘Whoomp! (There It Is)’. A decade of hard graft has allowed her to judge the temperature of a room. And that’s before she’s even started proper.
She knows how to work an audience – and social media
The fiercely individual personality and humour that’s in evidence throughout her essential Queen’s Speeches shines onstage. “If you’ve got clean underwear on, make some noise!” she hollers, introducing ‘Queen’s Speech 3’, which includes the winning bar “Bare girls change their friends every day but forget to change their panties.” During ‘Crispy Bacon’, she commands that crowd “jump four times to right then four times to the left”. They do: leading to the festival’s most choreographed moshing. Surveying the marshalled-chaos, she commands: “Somebody record this for Instagram.”
It’s a brief half-hour set – but packs a punch
Although her album proper, ‘Queen Of The Scene’ isn’t released until next year, she’s already developing an arsenal of tunes culled from four EPs and nine mixtapes. Her flow is a gatling gun of quotable-punchlines, with the comedy used to sweeten social commentary, and the audience is already chanting back her pop culture references to the likes of Nandos, Wotists and Rachel Dolezal. When she lights the torchpaper of recent single ‘Where Are You Now’ – her party-starting team-up with Wiley – to close the set, all she need do is stand back and observe the destruction.
But she’s still humble
Much has been written about the grime revival, but as Leshurr recently rightly told NME, beyond the capital, it never went away. “There was a time where London kind of gave up hope on grime, but we were all still banging it up in Birmingham and Nottingham and Leeds and Manchester,” said the 27-year-old Brummie. Perhaps this has helped her keep her feet on the ground. After ‘Queen’s Speech 4’, the viral hit that gave her a global platform, she remembers, “I wrote this song because it was fun, but it actually got my mum a mortgage.” “You people are just like me,” she adds, urging them to follow their ambitions, and leading chants of “I have a dream!”. Not just a Queen then, also a People’s Princess.