‘You’re always the best crowd’: SZA dazzles London ahead of Glastonbury headline

As she prepares to headline Glastonbury, R&B star SZA delighted crowds in a sun soaked Hyde Park, with a hits-filled British Summer Time set.

More than 60,000 fans lined the leafy run-up to the imposing Great Oak Stage, on the eve of what will be one of the biggest performances of SZA’s career at Worthy Farm, on Sunday, June 30.

The 34-year-old singer emerged, 15 minutes later than billed, on a temple-style stage straight out of Indiana Jones, via a lift which saw her tower above her adoring fans.

SZA in a pink dress
SZA treated fans to hits including Kill Bill, Normal Girl, and Snooze (Ian West/PA)

Wearing a red and white kimono and bodysuit, SZA launched into PSA, causing mass hysteria from onlookers, who rushed towards the stage holding banners and chanting along with every word.

Flanked by hordes of dancers, she treated fans to hits such as Snooze, All The Stars, and Shirt, along with new tracks from forthcoming third album, Lana, including most recent single, Saturn.

As she played Love Galore, from debut album Ctrl, the singer greeted the British Summertime Crowd shouting: “What’s up Hyde Park?”

Eventually, the star climbed down the stairs and perched herself on top of a large ant, from which she shouted “where my day ones at” as she was joined by her band, surrounded by sci-fi visuals.

Kiss Me More, a collaboration with Doja Cat, saw the singer mix the song with Prince and the Revolution’s 1986 classic Kiss, eventually covering it as the song’s outro.

While Kill Bill saw SZA pick up two lightsabre-style blades and twirl them around to a drum-led intro, before pointing them at the crowd as she urged them to sing a long with its “I might kill my ex” chorus.

It was the first night the singer had performed with a new space-age backdrop and set, which resembled a 2024 version of the afrofuturist stage dressing pioneered by funk legends, Parliament, in the 1970s, mixed with Disney-style fairy tale imagery.

The backdrop, which is likely to be used at Glastonbury, saw a large tree trunk fall on the stage midway through the set, which was climbed by SZA as she sung Nobody Gets Me and Special.

As she performed Good Days to a crowd of mobile phone lights, the words “the end” appeared on the screen behind.

But fans were treated to one more song, with 20 Something from her debut LP, seeing the singer tell fans: “Today was the first time with this new set.

“It’s so great to come to London, you’re always the best crowd.

“I love you so much, my name is SZA.”

As she sung, one member of the crowd held up a sign, which read: “Blessed to be stuck in these 20 somethings with you.”

SZA had arrived fresh from a string of US performances, with the most recent coming at Summerfest 2024 in Milwaukee, just seven days earlier.

It comes amid a dramatic rise for the St Louis-born singer, who will headline the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night despite having just two studio albums behind her.

SZA rose to prominence with early EPs See.SZA.Run and S, which were released in 2011 and 2012 respectively, but fans had to wait five more years for a full-length album in 2017’s Ctrl.

It was the single Kill Bill, from second album SOS, which would fire her to superstardom in 2022, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number three on the UK Singles Chart.

Her rapid rise has seen her become the most nominated act at the 2024 Grammys, as she was placed in the running for nine gongs.

British Summer Time will continue until Sunday, July 14, with acts such as K-pop group Stray Kids, Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks, and Shania Twain all set to feature.

Sunday’s Hyde Park event will see Tennessee rockers, Kings Of Leon, headline the Great Oak Stage, supported by a number of acts including The Vaccines and Red Rum Club.