"Ed Sheeran had given it his all, and indeed has what it takes to shake up any arena all on his own."
The stage is bare except for Ed Sheeran and his guitar. Dressed in a dark tee and blue jeans, it’s a sign of the raw entertainment to follow. “My job is to entertain you, and your job is to be entertained,” he said after opening with I’m A Mess. We curiously waited to see how this young man from the UK’s West Yorkshire would keep this hungry crowd engaged for two hours with a simple acoustic show, but the applause was deafening, indicating that fans already believed he could.
Lego House prompted an enthusiastic singalong. Sheeran stepped up onto a platform close to the edge of the stage and the fans madly shoved forward, as though if they came at him hard enough he’d materialise in the crowd.
Each song was long enough to feel like a journey, Sheeran in his own world, yet somehow leaving his door open, and his fans seemed cosy enough alongside him on the arena couch.
Lyrics like “I’m a singer that you never want to see shirtless” make Sheeran seem all the more endearing, a bloke being just who he is and telling us where he’s been, with no need to pretend. Although the rap in Take It Back showed his versatility, Sheeran shone when he sang. Snippets of the classics Superstition and Ain’t No Sunshine were slotted in to compliment the rapping.
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A 24 year-old without the support of a full band, Sheeran displayed incredible confidence, taking pride in the way he built each song with his feet controlling the electronics and harmonies, such as the way Bloodstream unfolded.
Photograph and Tenerife Sea showed that Sheeran is perfectly cut out for the ballads; there’s a soft, genuine plea-like feel in his singing. The large screens occasionally magnified his face – an opportunity to notice his deep blue eyes that the fans probably lose themselves in. Thinking Out Loud felt intimate and folks sang so loudly that it was distracting.
Sheeran then grabbed hold of a fan girl’s guitar, randomly singing a few lines of the folky Wild Mountain Thyme. He pledged to sign the guitar but only if the girl planned to “play the fuck out of it” and not keep it locked in a glass case, unaware that he’d just created a six billionth reason for his fans to love him even more.
After declaring that, “Australia is my favourite place in the world,” he offered up The A-Team, which had the arena illuminated by mobile phones. Despite the song being slightly sped-up, there was a fresh and delicate tone to his voice.
The show began to wrap up with Give Me Love, which built to a crescendo and those in the stands could feel their seats vibrating. Thunderous applause returned for the encore break. Sheeran busted out You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, the stand-out of the show – a classic case of saving the best till last. It was next to impossible to stop watching Sheeran then, not even a flinch when he incorporated Iggy Azalea’s Fancy for a bit of fun (a questionable move, but the crowd lapped it up – and in the end, isn’t that what it should be about?)
Sing marked the end of the show, which was surprisingly striking live, but then again he still had our undivided attention after wowing us with the previous number. Although the high notes sounded a bit scratchy by this time, it was a sure sign that Ed Sheeran had given it his all, and indeed has what it takes to shake up any arena all on his own.