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Willow's Reading set was a success - even if the crowd eventually let her down a little

With great songs, buckets of charisma and her best years ahead, this will surely be the lowest we see Willow on the Reading bill

Willow at Reading 2022
(Image: © Getty (Joseph Okpako/WireImage))

It may only be lunchtime here on the final day of Reading, but there’s an evening-sized crowd ready and waiting for the arrival of Willow. While some of them might just be curious and want to have a gawp at the offspring of some very famous people, the reaction to Willow herself casually wandering out onto the East Stage and nonchalantly waving to those gathered suggests that she has a far greater amount of fans here than her early time slot would have you believe. To ram home the point, she careers immediately into Transparent Soul and the field loses its collective shit. 

It’s a nice start, even if the song itself is fairly ho-hum pop-punk. With Willow’s shift towards more rock-centric territories over the last few years, you might have expected an entire set cut from the same cloth. Nope! In fact, the most enjoyable aspect of her slight, eight-song set is just how many genres and styles she manages to touch on in such a brief running time. She confesses her desire to write a rock opera before a massive, bombastic Lipstick, gives us the louche, 80s bubblegum pop of Meet Me At Our Spot and the slinky, modern R&B of huge hit Wait a Minute!. which gets one of the single biggest reactions to any song played this entire weekend. 

As you’d expect from someone in possession of her genes, she's also a very charismatic presence, her personality seducing the Reading crowd with talk about the beauty of playing music outdoors and how she loves everyone here. It’s pure Hollywood, but it certainly gets the desired effect. If there is one grumble - and it's certainly not Willow's fault - it's the mass exodus from the crowd after she plays Wait a Minute!. It's pretty shocking to see; with one song left in what has been a very enjoyable set, you’d think people could give her at least three more minutes of their time. Maybe there aren’t as many real fans of her music here as we thought after all. Regardless, this is a strong effort from an artist with plenty of years ahead of her, an already strong catalogue to draw from and who seems made to command large crowds. Expect her higher on the bill next time.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.