A record-shattering crowd, 65,000 strong, surged into Adelaide Oval last night for the purpose of seeing one man. A man who has an uncanny habit of writing chart-topping pop songs, who has gone from playing pub gigs to filling stadiums, and who manages to be impossibly charming and humble about it the entire time. Those without tickets to the sold-out gig squeezed up against the barriers or lounged on the grass outside the venue, simply to hear the soaring ballads and infectious singles of the man Noel Gallagher dubbed ‘The Ginger Fury’.
The support act was a bubbly Missy Higgins who seemed utterly delighted to be there and who played a short-n-sweet set with songs from her first album ‘The Sound of White’, her latest single Futon Couch – which is indecently catchy – and a stunning rendition of the Australian classic Throw Your Arms Around Me, resplendent with harmonies and dripping with passion.
The audience had only a short wait before every light in the Oval went out and the screens displayed live footage to the audience of their humble hero making his way to the stage, guitar slung across the back of his gingham shirt; their tartan troubadour, their tattooed titan. To put it mildly? The crowd went utterly bananas at the sight of him. He opened the show with his love-story to growing up in Suffolk; Castle on the Hill, asked Radelaide how they were doing, and the crowd was his. “I’ve got the day off tomorrow,” he said, “So I’m willing to lose my voice if you’re willing to lose yours.”
Eraser came next, blue-green visuals surging in time to the bass as Sheeran white-boy-rapped for his life. He used his loop pedal to layer harmony upon harmony, topping the lot off with what seemed like an impossibly high falsetto. Other songs that merged mesmerising visuals with Ed’s music were Bloodstream and I See Fire. But this reviewer has a bone to pick with the projectionist. For an artist that performs an extraordinary feat, filling a stadium with sound using only two things: a guitar and a loop pedal, the visuals (while understandably necessary), gave the audience no opportunity to see even one undecorated shot of the singer-songwriter working his craft, rather choosing to flood the screens with clumsy, token visual production that distracted from the endearing face and dynamic action of the audience’s 5’7 champion.
He shared some personal moments with the crowd, stating that Perfect is his favourite song he’s ever written, and it went down a treat, phone flashlights lighting up all over the stadium. His manner was jovial and endearing and he encouraged his audience to give it 100%. It seems he honestly thrives on his fans enjoying his music, just as much as he relishes playing it. Tricking his spectators into thinking he’d finished on his hit Sing, he responded to their chants for more by returning to the stage wearing a t-shirt stamped with the Aboriginal flag, and annihilating his encore with Shape of You and then going right back to the beginning for the hardcore Ed fans, with You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, from his first release, (+).
While it seems categorically paradoxical to put a one-man show on inside a stadium; it stands as a testament to the talent of today’s true songwriter. In a time when only a handful of people write the pop bangers of today, it is a breath of fresh air to experience a person who writes his own music because he cares, who makes sure the fans camping out to get front spots at general admission are delivered pizza, and who wholeheartedly thanks the 65,000 people who came out on a Wednesday night despite having school and work the next morning. For this reviewer, watching the ten-year old sat in front of me sing every word to Photograph with her eyes closed, wrapped in the arms of her mother, made the gig a true delight.
Live Review by Lily Roberts