This weekend brought about what was one of the most talked about set of shows from an artist in recent memory. One of the world’s biggest artists arrived in London following his massive sold-out tour of North America to play three further sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium. There were a few people who couldn’t believe how Ed Sheeran could sell out 80,000 seats for three nights in a row (Noel Gallagher, I’m looking at you…), but for anyone who attended any of the performances, they were able to find out why.
Personally, I was not surprised that Sheeran was able to sell out Wembley. After all, his latest album, x, has sold over two million copies in the UK alone, both of his studio records have sat at the top of the charts and he has a massive following on social media, with over 12 million likes on Facebook and over 14 million followers on Twitter. However, what I was wary of, and slightly sceptical of, was how one man with one guitar would be able to hold and draw in an audience of the magnitude that Wembley Stadium holds. Some of the biggest rock bands in the world have failed to hold an audience of that scale for a whole set, let alone someone who is just going to be standing there alone.
It didn’t take long for Sheeran to answer my doubts though. However, initially the evening began with a shaky start, as rapper Example took to the stage and failed to wow the crowd. Despite being known for putting on great live shows, a venue of Wembley’s size was a stretch too far for the 33-year old. He was good, but just not good enough for what was to come. Rudimental were up next and stepped it up a level. Hits like ‘Waiting All Night‘ and ‘Feel the Love‘ went down a storm with everyone in attendance and really got everyone pumped for what was to come next: Mr Edward Sheeran.
The 24-year old from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire treated the 80,000 strong crowd to a mixture of hits from both his debut and sophomore albums as well as a handful of covers thrown in for good measure. The singer-songwriter has come a long way since playing on street corners and in pubs. It was just him on stage, on his own with his trusty guitar, a few microphones and a loop machine. There were no backing tracks; the drums were replaced by tapping and banging on his guitar. No piano; light plucking and strumming replaced that. And no backing vocals; he looped his own over himself. This young man is the most talented musician I have ever had to the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes. Before this show I wasn’t a massive fan of Sheeran’s. I am now though.
The likes of ‘I’m A Mess‘, ‘Lego House‘, ‘Drunk‘, ‘Photograph‘ and ‘Bloodstream‘ all went down exceptionally with the crowd. However, it was his ability to sneak in covers amongst his own hits that really got everyone going and fascinated the masses. ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder and ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ by Bill Withers were sprinkled into ‘Take It Back’, whilst ‘No Diggity‘ by Blackstreet was included in amongst a medley of ‘Don’t‘ and ‘Nina’. Camera phone lights and lighters were also out in force on many an occasion, but more so for familiar ballads like ‘Small Bump‘, ‘Thinking Out Loud‘ and ‘A-Team‘. Even an issue with the loop machine during Sheeran’s encore didn’t phase him. He had made most of the way through ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You‘ when it went, but he calmly stopped, took his mic to the front of the stage and performed an a cappella version of ‘The Parting Glass’ whilst the technicians sneaked on in the dark to fix it. He then started the track from the beginning so that his fans didn’t feel like they’d been left short. He then proceeded to finish the evening with crowd favourite ‘Sing‘.
Ed Sheeran is one incredibly talented musician. He can do things with a guitar and a loop machine that I never thought could be possible. This man is something else. If you ever get the chance to see him in the future, don’t even think about it, just do it. You won’t be disappointed.