SZA at BST Hyde Park in London concert review on June 29

Storming through a 28-song set that not only drew from her albums ‘SOS’ and ‘Ctrl’ but also teased a bug-themed new record, the American R&B superstar delivered an otherworldly 80-minute spectacle for a sold-out crowd of 60,000. 

Alongside synchronised choreography with her troupe of dancers and igniting mass singalongs for fan favourites ‘All The Stars’ and ‘Kiss Me More’ (the latter cleverly interspersed sections of Prince’s ‘Kiss’), the world-building stage design proved innovative and frequently jaw-dropping. 

From the central Indiana Jones-like set and giant ant that SZA gyrated on, to the kaleidoscopic 3D-style visuals which, ranging between insects and botanical undergrowth to sci-fi futurism, felt like a cross between a David Attenborough documentary, the film Avatar and Travis Scott’s Astroworld. 

(Image: Mr Not Blue and Cassidy Meyers)

Perhaps the most striking moment – aside from SZA swishing katana swords around during a cathartic ‘Kill Bill’ – was when a tall tree trunk descended from above and landed, vertically, for her to gradually climb and sing from. 

Perched high and looking out onto a sea of people (perhaps a nod to the diving board staging of her recent arena tour), impeccable love song ‘Nobody Gets Me’ had everyone trying – and failing – to match her incredible harmonies.

Earlier in the night, she had been much closer to the audience’s level, jumping around and head-banging at the end of a runway throughout ‘F2F’, really leaning into her self-confessed love of emo and showcasing a heavier side to her artistry. 

Overall, although her show was light on mid-song chat and costume changes, SZA’s effortlessly charismatic performance was all the better for it as she squeezed in as many well-known hits and deeper cuts as possible. 

(Image: Mr Not Blue and Cassidy Meyers)

Geared towards her mostly young and extremely dedicated fanbase (many of whom had shelled out more than £100 for a ticket and proudly wore her merch or baseball t-shirts with her name on them), this was undoubtedly a performance for her day-ones.

With all this in mind – and considering her headline set at Glastonbury the following evening (Sunday June 30) faced sound issues and a notably smaller crowd (likely because festival-goers had already headed home) – SZA’s Hyde Park debut will go down as an undeniable triumph. 

Her performance topped a day of show-stopping soul, R&B and gospel, courtesy of rising stars Elmiene and Sekou, both of whom displayed their incredible vocals, as died world-renowned artists Snoh Aalegra and Sampha. 

BST Hyde Park continues this weekend with Robbie Williams and Shania Twain. Stevie Nicks and Kylie Minogue bring things to a close on July 13 and 14 respectively.  


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