Two-and-a-half years ago, Beabadoobee played a tiny show for NME‘s Girls To The Front at London’s Shacklewell Arms to less than a couple of hundred people. Performing a handful of stripped-back tunes from her ‘Patched Up’ EP armed only with an acoustic guitar, the crowd were smitten for early numbers like ‘Coffee’ and ‘The Moon Song’.
It’s a familiar site today then, to see fans are belting back the words to the lilting and chilled ‘Coffee’; only this time there are a few more voices in the crowd. Today, Beabadoobee is playing Reading Festival Main Stage East to a sea of thousands. ‘Coffee’ has since been sampled on Canadian rapper Powfu‘s TikTok-dominating hit ‘Death Bed (Coffee For Your Head)’ – racking up billions of plays on the video sharing app.
Flanked by her three-piece band, the Dirty Hit signee effervescently tours us through songs from those early acoustic moments, through her rockier debut record ‘Fake It Flowers’, right up to her 2021 EP ‘Our Extended Play’. It’s a slick eight song set that pays tribute to Bea Kristi’s lo-fi beginnings, celebrates her current blistering sound, and with the most recent tunes, starts to look at where she could be going next.
Opening with the jangling grunge-pop of ‘Care’, followed up by ‘Dye It Red’, Kristi and her band riff and thrash with ease, but not as effortlessly as it is for circle pits to erupt at the most ferocious moments. The highlights of the set, though, come in the cuts from latest project ‘Our Extended Play’, which was co-written and produced by Dirty Hit labelmates George Daniel and Matty Healy of The 1975.
The dancing shuffle of the glorious ‘Last Day On Earth’ is a delight, with Beabadoobee sacking off her guitar and taking centre stage, microphone in hand; while the set closer of careening recent single ‘Cologne’ leaves us shook as a fierce, balls-to-the-wall power-rock banger. If this is a sign of what’s to come, then we’re all here for it.
Over the past few years, Beabadoobee and her band have become a well-oiled machine. While a few nerves may have needed to be shaken off at the set’s start, the end showed a killer band playing at their absolute best, fully deserving this brilliant moment and the great things that they could well be due on the horizon. From Shacklewell Arms to the Reading Main Stage, that’s not bad, is it? Just imagine what she could do next. We can’t wait to find out.
Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.