Ed's Note: How A Rapper Named Dave And A Teenager Called Alex Took Glastonbury 2019 By Storm

on Tuesday, July 02, 2019
Words: Saam Das // Photos: BBC

Glastonbury Festival ticked off another successful edition this past weekend, with a groundbreaking headline slot from Stormzy, but one moment has arguably dominated the talk surrounding Glasto 2019. And got us a bit emotional at the same time. Here's how a rapper named Dave and a fifteen year old fan called Alex came together to produce magic, and made us all escape our worldly worries for about six minutes. At least six minutes.

"I wanna share a moment with one of you guys onstage."

This is Dave, who followed up an Ivor Novello award in 2018 with his UK chart-topping 2019 debut album, 'Psychodrama'. This is the Other Stage at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival. This is history in the making.

"I've got this track called 'Thiago Silva'. (Dave's collab with fellow British rapper AJ Tracey about the highly rated and decorated Paris Saint-Germain and Brazilian footballer.)

"Who is sober enough to sing these lyrics along with me?"

The BBC cameras have already zoomed in on an enthusiastic volunteer. Dave's gaze similarly narrows. A young man in a white bucket hat and a PSG jersey is courting attention atop the shoulders of an unseen assailant. Dave is unsure. "I see a PSG shirt over there. But do you know the lyrics?" Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Our would-be hero begins to spit bars in a proto-audition. "He seems to know the lyrics." Dave seems to be coming around. And then the teenage fan is spun around, in a revelatory fashion.

"Let's take a chance on him, he's wearing a Thiago Silva shirt! Let's get him up here."

We're only a minute into this adventure. Alex is introduced onstage and asked how he feels. "Mate, I'm fucking buzzing!" Dave guides Alex over to get his technical gear sorted, as the crowd (living vicariously through this specially selected audience member) begin to chant "ALEX! ALEX! ALEX!"


Dave is beaming. And the best is still yet to come. He offers Alex some water, "in a can of course, no plastic" - referencing Glastonbury's admirable decision to ban single-use plastics, which led to Sir David Attenborough's appearance on the Pyramid Stage, accompanying the trailer for his new BBC series 'One Planet'. (Soundtracked by another unexpected but welcome team-up between Sia and Hans Zimmer, on the brilliant 'Out There'.)

Sia & Hans Zimmer - 'Out There' (BBC 'One Planet' trailer)

Alex gets his first taste as a performer, joining Dave in leading a round of an "Ohhh Thiago Silva" chant. We're two minutes into this tale for the ages. The time is now. As 'Thiago Silva' kicks off, Dave gathers Alex for a pep talk.

"Sing AJ's parts. You got this. If you need any help, look at me. I believe in you."

Dave reassuringly places his hand across Alex's cheek, repeating "I believe in you." Alex gently places his hand on Dave's cheek in kind. It's a special moment. A connection not just between the two onstage performers, but with the audience at Glasto and beyond.

We're a bit emotional by this point. This is too wholesome for the shitstorm that's been 2019. But we're into the danger zone now, and ready to go. Alex starts to look slightly concerned, holding onto his Fila bum-bag for dear life. And yet mere seconds later, he's going at 100 miles per hour, rapping his way through Dave and AJ Tracey's lyrics like he performs to crowds of thousands every day. Alex is in his element, exclaiming "let's fucking go, Glastonbury! His smile is as wide as the stage itself.

Dave has a quick word, presumably asking him to tone down the language but to keep up the energy. And he does. Well, the latter anyway. Dave continues to egg him on. It's an absolute sprint to the finish, and in an almost relay-esque manner, the duo share an overexcited handshake of sorts as they revel in the brilliance of this collaborative performance.

Then it's over. But not all over. The crowd reignite their initial chant, "ALEX! ALEX! ALEX!, and Dave is quick to step in (following a well-deserved pat on the back) to take out Alex's in-ear gear and let him soak up the acclaim.

Alex opts for his now go-to catchphrase, "let's fucking go". And go, he must. But not before being called a "legend" by Dave. Which, strangely enough, actually feels like an understatement.

It didn't take too long for Twitter to light up with #AlexFromGlasto, which also perhaps expectedly led to calls of a set-up. Journo Miranda Sawyer noted that Dave regularly asks fans to join in on 'Thiago Silva' at his live gigs, which has somewhat quelled the naysayers. The Guardian's Sarah Marsh caught up with the man of the moment, Alex Mann, who was himself quick to dismiss such suggestions.

And while Alex has been relishing his chance to be a fanboy, so has Dave, with Thiago Silva's congratulatory tweet of the performance eliciting "OH MY GOD" reaction from the rapper. Turns out we're all just fans at the end of the day.

Dave x AJ Tracey - 'Thiago Silva'

Find more on Dave at santandave.com, and follow Alex Mann on Twitter.

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