His last tour, the mammoth Divide, ended up being one of the biggest of all time and the man with the Midas touch in upbeat music is back in the touring circuit with a show that speeds up the pace. stage.
Instead of appearing at one end of the stadium, the rearmost seats squinting to see the star, Ed played in a circle in the center of the room, surrounded by huge curved screens, a fairer way to give everyone a good view. of the show, regardless of their seat number.
Huge plectrum-shaped screens also soar above the sea of Sheeran fans in this no-cost staging.
This means anyone can be part of Ed’s orbit and his famous Loop Station. He has four at his feet in the round which he uses to create a rich, layered sonic experience, with tracks like Shivers and Overpass Graffiti flooding the crowd with sound.
And, always one for the numbers, it also allows for more seating, making Ed’s concert the most attended at the stadium so far with 60,000 spectators through the doors, breaking Rihanna’s record established nearly 10 years ago with a crowd of 57,500.
Unlike previous performers at the Black Cats’ house, Ed’s shows aren’t a whirlwind of costume changes, à la Spice Girls, or Pink’s aerial acrobatics. Instead, the music is the star of the show, with Ed packing a more impressive back catalog than most.
“My job is to play as many songs as you recognize as possible,” he tells the crowd in his affable manner. “It’s a Friday night and I know the North East can get rowdy – I want you to be as rowdy as possible.” You gotta hand it to the guy: his upbeat energy and love of his craft is infectious and you can’t stop singing with him.
The 31-year-old is something of a hit machine and you’d have to live under a rock not to know the verse to at least one of his tracks – whether that’s to your personal taste or not.
As well as spanning genres from folk to pop, his music spans all ages, from kids in deeley boppers to Castle On The Hill and 2Step to couples slow-dancing on the pitch to A Team and Shape of You.
It’s the kind of music that really strikes a chord, pardon the pun, with its ardent fanbase, many of whom, with arm tattoos of Ed, lined up early at the stadium gates. to ensure a good standing place.
He’s joined in the round by a group for collaboration tracks, which don’t work on the loop station, heavy hitters like Peru, Beautiful People and I Don’t Care.
For Galway Girl, the stadium transformed into an orange and green Irish jig as he was joined on stage by a fiddler.
As the sun set over Sunderland, it was great to see this caliber of production and pyrotechnics return to the stadium, three years after the Spice Girls took the stage. A round of applause too for the millions it pumps into the local economy in bar, restaurant and hotel bookings, with the city really buzzing over the bank holiday.
Ed returns to the stage on Saturday June 4th for round 2. If you’re heading there looking for a night of success and great showmanship, then Ed has your number.
There were fireworks, there were flames, there were Mexican waves and a bit of live music magic. Double math has never been so much fun.