Linda Dunjey – ed-sheeran-optus-stadium-perth-11
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Review: Ed Sheeran at Optus Stadium, Perth, 2 March 2018

Crowd participation was the name of the game when songwriting wunderkind and down-to-earth lad Ed Sheeran opened the Australian leg of his Divide stadium tour in Perth last night.

Dressed casually in jeans and a checked shirt, the superstar arrived onstage at Optus Stadium with all the fuss and fanfare you’d expect from Sheeran – just a casual wave as he slung on his guitar.

“Perth, will you make fools of yourselves tonight for me?” he asked as he launched into ‘Castle On The Hill’ from 2017’s ÷ (Divide).

The 27-year-old star strummed, looped and rapped his way into Perth hearts for nearly two hours – getting the crowd involved at every opportunity.

“Don’t call me baby me unless you mean it,” the crowd roared on the chorus of ‘Dive’, egged on by Sheeran who had worked up a sweat by that point.

‘Bloodstream’ saw Sheeran encouraging boyfriends and ‘super-dads’ to take part in some synchronised arm-waving. Even the new stadium’s fancy lighting system got a workout.

Sheeran’s uncanny one-man-band ability was no more evident than on ‘Photograph’ (from 2014 album X) which built to a crescendo of looped Sheerans harmonising with each other, backed by percussive guitar.

“That was cool,” he said nonchalantly, after delivering one of the most spectacular vocal performances of the night.

This was the first-ever concert at Perth’s brand new 60,000-seat stadium, something Sheeran was keen to acknowledge.

“I feel properly honoured to be playing here tonight,” he told fans.

“This is a really cool stadium,” he added later.

“I know it’s new. It might get shit in time but for now it’s pretty cool.”

Sheeran was dwarfed by a visual display the size of a small building, which helped sustain the crowd’s attention as he zipped around the stage – a speck in the distance for many.

The set included hits from his three albums, from flawless vocals on early ballad ‘A Team’ to playing ‘Don’t’ and ‘New Man’ simultaneously with mind-boggling technical skill.

A couple of punters in the stands even managed to get engaged during ‘Perfect’, which was just, well, perfect.

Sheeran finished with ‘Sing’, letting the crowd continue the ‘oh-oh-oh-oh’ chorus as he walked off stage – as has become his tradition.

Security guards who earlier had the un-fun task of telling people in seated areas to sit down (despite Sheeran telling them to get up and dance) could do nothing but stand and watch as the entire crowd rose to its feet.

A brief encore featured ‘Shape of You’ and ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ – the latter from his first album +.

It was a fitting way to end, the song’s lyrics and delivery a perfect showcase of Sheeran’s unique talent and humility.

Now that his name’s in lights at stadium heights, what will he do next?

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