Where the Bands Are (Ed Sheeran, 10 July, 2018)

Ed Sheeran’s stage setup is deceptively simple: on the surface just a man and his guitar. In reality: a massive sold-out outdoor venue with huge screens showing his every move and grinning phizog and a bloke on hand to pass him his pre-tuned acoustic guitar.

Seemingly filled with an innocent boyish charm Sheeran confidently bashes out hits. What we see is a multitalented musician with a well thought-out image, having a fusion of genres up his sleeve, playing around with an advanced music machine.

The loop pedals are actually what intrigues me the most during the show. It’s fascinating to see Ed Sheeran create music on stage, but I can’t help but wonder if the show would have been even better with a band to back him up instead.

Every step of the way, Sheeran, annoyingly repetitively, emphasises audience involvement. He explains that “participation is a big part” and his well-worn routine for getting the audience to scream is undoubtedly effective (but it gets on my nerves).

After a strong opening with his 2017 single Castle on the Hill the show descended a little bit into a mid-set lull. The best received songs (and massive sing-alongs) are I see Fire, Galway Girl, Perfect and Shape of You. The highlights for me: Nancy Mulligan and the last song You need me, I don’t need You, where Sheeran’s rapping is refreshingly new.

All in all: a pretty nice summer evening in the company of about 60 000 screaming fans dancing and singing frantically masterfully directed by a talented musician.

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Set list:

Castle on the Hill, Eraser, The A Team, Don’t / New Man, Dive, Bloodstream, Happier, I’m a Mess, Galway girl, Feeling good/ I See Fire, Thinking Out Loud, One / Photograph, Perfect, Nancy Mulligan, Sing, Encores: Shape Of You, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You

Support acts:

Jamie Lawson and Anne-Marie

One comment

  1. Great review, Anna! I’m seeing him next month in Seattle and wasn’t sure what to expect… I didn’t realize he was touring without a band when I bought the tickets. I appreciate your reassurance that a solo show can still work well in such a big venue, so thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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