BERWYN at Reading Festival 2021: deeply moving missives from a musical treasure

August 29: the soulful singer and rapper brings a very special performance to the BBC Music Introducing Stage

Trinidad-born, Romford-raised BERWYN has a discography full of heart-wrenching tracks that would seem most appropriate in the closed setting of a small, intimate venue. However, at the outdoor BBC Music Introducing Stage, the Trinidad-born rapper takes control and is rewarded with a dazzling reception.

He has a modest but receptive crowd swaying to his his soulful rap, some even finishing off his lyrics when he gets a little breathless. For the most part, BERWYN’s set finds him hyped up, pushing himself to deliver a high-energy performance. With Trinidad’s flag wrapped around his head – which he also used as an invisibility cloak as he moved around the festival – he sings his inner thoughts to the loyal fans in front of him.

And those loyal fans act as though they’re watching the fave on a main stage. They start off pretending it’s karaoke and singing every word as if it’s their own, before getting onto each other’s shoulders so BERWYN can get an even better look at them. There’s real collective glee at seeing the underdog finally get the recognition he deserves, especially after baring his soul to the world for free.

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After every song, there is a deafening chorus of whoops, braps and claps as the audience stands in awe of BERWYN’s passion. Whether he’s at the keyboard, playing ‘Glory’, reminding us that he believes in God’s time, or jumping viciously with his tongue out to ‘I’D RATHER DIE THAN BE DEPORTED’, you can tell that BERWYN feels he’s having “his Nirvana moment”, as he jokily puts it.

There are moments when you’re unsure if he’s emotionally, especially after ‘I’D RATHER DIE THAN BE DEPORTED’, when the 25-year-old wipes his eye, just like he did in the accompanying music video’s emotional car ride. Sure enough, you may want to cry too, because the rapper is talking about some heartbreaking stuff, from prison to poverty. But after fighting back the tears, you’ll enjoy him jumping down, having fun with his fans before getting back up on stage and sending endless air smooches to us.

Credit: Andy Ford

Under the tent, fans’ cheeks must burn from endless grinning – especially those laughing at the way BERWYN rocks out and collapses on the floor, head banging all the way down. Perhaps they are so full of love for him to finally have a stage of his own. It’s inspiring to see BERWYN give it his all, and you’d be hard-pressed not to walk away feeling enlightened.

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