Ed Sheeran frenzy hit Brisbane as the 27-year-old singer-songwriter played the first of his two sold-out shows at Suncorp Stadium. Some diehard fans had been sleeping out in the hope of securing front row positions and a traffic-stopping sea of people arrived in a steady migration until sundown.
One in about 25 of us Aussies were seeing Sheeran on his ‘Divide’ tour and it was clear from the varied mix of the crowd this down-to-earth guy has captured many hearts.
The evening opened with a confident Fergus James warming up the stage, followed by a super excited and much-loved Missy Higgins who said she was a huge Ed Sheeran fan having already bought a ticket to the Melbourne concert long before she knew she was on tour. Opening her set with ‘All For Believing’ she played a variety of favourites including ‘Everyone’s Waiting’, ‘Steer’ and ‘Scar’ as well as two tracks ‘Futon Couch’ and ‘Cemetery’, from her new album which is out in May.
The stadium filled to capacity, the lights went down and the set was suddenly awash in the trademark blue colour of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Divide’ tour. All eyes were glued to the stage, phone torches ablaze and a live feed of Sheeran walking from backstage appeared on the giant screen. The crowd screams were deafening at their first glimpse of the British star who came to the stage with a quick wave and immediately got to work laying down sounds which would accompany him for his opening song ‘Castle On The Hill’.
“I’m going to be playing songs I hope you know, and if you don’t it will be a long two hours for you!” he said. By the sound of the stadium-wide singing, it was unlikely the night would be long for anyone. The stage set up was simple with Sheeran at the centre as a one-man show, accompanied only by his guitars and loop pedal machine at his feet. Behind him was a vivid and spectacular curved LED screen where images were projected.
He took a moment to explain his technique for the night’s performance because he “got accused of lip-synching once” and wanted to assure us that everything was being created live.
For the next two hours an enthusiastic Brisbane crowd were completely won over by the performer, mesmerised as he looped, strummed, rapped, and belted out chart-topping hit after hit which included the likes of ‘Eraser’ ‘Dive’ ‘Happier’ ‘Galway Girl’ and a mash-up of ‘Don’t/New Man’.
There were no surprises with the clear crowd favourites being ‘Photograph’, ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and ‘Perfect’ producing whole stadium sing-a-longs and even a marriage proposal or two. At one point a mass scream-wave made its way around the stadium and back in appreciation.
Sheeran confessed to being a bit of a “boring” concert goer who worried about what people may think of him. He encouraged the crowd to “do your weird dance” and yelled “Brisbane should we get a little bit weird tonight?”
When Ed Sheeran spoke the crowd responded, no questions asked, synchronized en masse and what a sight it was. Stand out crowd moments were during ‘The A-Team’ when everyone turned on their phone torches and the stadium lit up like a mass of fireflies. The other was during ‘Bloodstream’ when Sheeran commanded “When the beat drops we are going to bounce!” and all hands were dropping to the beat and bodies were bouncing as the colour red was cast out over the crowd.
Brisbane were treated to a slight change in set list at the request of a little girl Sheeran met which saw him replace ‘Lego House’ for ‘Supermarket Flowers’ a song he normally wouldn’t play as he thought it was “a bit too sad”. He finished his set for the night on a high with ‘Sing’ and was quickly cheered back out for his encore of ‘Shape of You’ and ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’.
Having whipped the crowd into an absolute frenzy and with a final strum of his guitar, he saluted an adoring Brisbane crowd, posed for the crowd selfie and left the stage.
Revellers were left craving more and it was easy to see why he has been dubbed one of the biggest names in music today.
IMAGES (c) Peter Wheeler Photography