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Watch Rabea Massaad’s scorching solo spot opening for Stormzy at Reading Festival

Rabea Massaad performing live at Reading Festival
(Image credit: BBC iPlayer)

The 50th anniversary instalment of the UK’s world-famous Reading and Leeds Festival took place last weekend and – as you’d expect – the three-day music marathon saw no shortage of exquisite electric guitar performances.

Out of all the artists that played, however, one appearance in particular caught the guitar world’s attention. In a jaw-dropping display of rap-meets-rock, Rabea Massaad joined forces with Stormzy for a blistering set opener that saw the prog phenom supercharge the rap star’s show.

Taking to the industrially styled stage in front of thousands of fans armed only with his Chapman ML3 BEA signature guitar, Massaad matches the performance’s blazing pyrotechnics with some fiery lead work of his own, teasing the crowd with some thunderously ominous chord punches.

After easing in some wailing bends and tentative pentatonic runs, Massaad lets loose on his fretboard, preceding Stormzy’s entrance – and the rapper’s rendition of his track Big Michael – with some 100-miles-per-hour shred-ready runs.

Massaad would go on to crop up on a number of other tracks and returned for the set’s epic closing exchanges, decorating Stormzy’s smash hit Vossi Bop with some chef’s-kiss-inducing high-gain lines and show-stopping chordal stabs.

“Still so blown away with how epic this ended up being,” reflected Massaad on social media after the event.

“Have to say thanks again to Stormzy and (Chris) Bronski (Jablonski) for getting me involved,” he continued. “Of course Kojo Samuel for being an amazing MD and awesome to work with! 

“Such an epic production and so thankful to have been a part of it. Huge thanks again to all the people involved in making it such an epic experience!”

In a separate post, Massaad spoke of how the collaboration came to be, saying, “I got a call at the end of July from the fantastic Kojo Samuel (Stormzy’s musical director) to get involved and also work on an arrangement for a heavy, riff-laden version of Big Michael to open the show.

“And a huge shout out to Tawbox (creative directors) and Stormzy for finding me here on Instagram and choosing me to be the guy to do this!

“This is genuinely the last thing I ever thought I’d be posting but my GOD was it epic!”

Matt Owen

Matt is a News Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.