Sheeran slipped away with his adoring congregation still in strong voice.
Night falls at the Brisbane Riverstage and an army of Ed Sheeran devotees sweats into the prickly grass of the amphitheatre.
Local heartthrob Conrad Sewell belts out his soulful melodies interspersed with unusual pops and clicks of vocal percussion, receiving approving hoots from the excitable front section. He dedicates Remind Me to ‘all the ladies out there’ - a surefire way to win over the vast majority of the audience.
Following Sewell, talented British songwriter Jamie Lawson edges out onto the stage with his guitar and cheat sheet in hand. By this point, impatience is growing and the crowd mutter amongst themselves while he runs through his pretty, acoustic love songs. When introducing his flagship single Wasn’t Expecting That, Lawson refers to Ed Sheeran as if he is some mysterious deity to be appeased: ‘This song is the reason why I’m here. Ed Sheeran likes this song and he wants you to hear it’.
The crowd swells and new additions fight to wriggle towards a spot in the same area code as the stage, which is by this point close to impossible.
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The floodlights illuminate the crowd and a steady chant of ‘Ed! Ed! Ed!’ builds among the baying masses. Without warning, Ed Sheeran appears to a sonic boom of screams that must nearly knock the wind out of him. He explodes into I’m A Mess with equal energy, which flows back and forth in a sweaty reciprocal fireball.
He generates an incredible sound for one man and an undersized acoustic guitar, employing his trademark loop pedals to build harmonies and layer ingeniously picked chords over bass beats produced by thumping the body of his guitar, to astounding effect.
He plays Lego House to a backdrop of arty visuals projected between two towering Ed Sheerans, ending the song to deafening applause from the standing sea he now commands.
The omnipotent singer conducts a choir of voices to his repertoire of chart smashing hits, powering through Thinking Out Loud and A-Team, during which Sheeran decrees that the lights on mobile phones should be raised in the air, and at once there is light and he sees that it is good.
Sheeran retreats backstage after a roaring set and returns after three minutes, regenerated, to perform his coup de grace, rounded off with the anthemic Sing, and rest assured, everybody does.
His work done, Sheeran slips away, his adoring congregation still in strong voice.