Review: Ed Sheeran, Perth Arena, 5 April 2015
One man and a guitar.
It sounds like the background music at your local pub on a Sunday afternoon, but Ed Sheeran‘s pub gigs were a distant memory as he greeted a sold-out Perth Arena for the second night in a row on Sunday.
They were packed to the rafters and in full voice when the 24-year-old virtuoso arrived with minimal fuss, wrapping an Australian flag around his microphone before launching into I’m a Mess, from 2014 album X.
Sheeran had the audience in raptures as he began strumming, tapping and looping – techniques that have become his trademark.
“I’m very sad because today’s my last day in Australia for quite a long time,” he lamented.
“But I’m glad I get to spend my last day with you guys.”
Lego House was the first in a string of tracks for which Sheeran encouraged audience participation, but he really didn’t need to try.
In asking fans to sing and dance to their heart’s content, Sheeran said the key was “to have fun, not to worry about what’s cool and what’s uncool” – a sentiment which arguably sums up the reason for his global success.
Multiple digital screens displaying images of Sheeran and some seriously groovy graphics, along with his layered beats and harmonies, meant the show felt like much more than a one-man band.
Sheeran cites Eminem as one of his influences, and Sheeran’s unusual brand of melodic rap is especially evident on early hit You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.
The song is an audacious comment on the pitfalls of the music industry, featuring beatboxing (vocal percussion) and layers upon layers of guitar.
On this occasion it also saw Sheeran break a guitar string.
Luckily, spare guitars were on hand as it wasn’t the only one he’d break during this show.
Sheeran switched seamlessly from gravelly-voiced rapper to romantic crooner, and Thinking Out Loud had couples dancing cheek-to-cheek while he quietly serenaded them.
The show was full of well-loved hits like The A Team and Give Me Love, and peppered with snippets from other artists like Blackstreet and Iggy Azalea.
A short encore finished with Sing, co-written with Pharrell Williams – the track which pushed Sheeran out of his comfort zone and onto radio playlists everywhere.
Rather than spend the next few minutes basking in the crowd’s adoration as many stars would, Sheeran instructed the crowd to keep singing the hit song’s “whoa-oh-oh-oh” chorus while he walked off stage with just as little fanfare as when he arrived.
Any doubts about how a solo performer would keep an arena crowd on its feet for the best part of two hours were quickly allayed by Sheeran’s energy and flair.
That he was able to sell out the Arena two nights in a row without a huge band, production or entourage, is testament to just how fundamentally talented and entertaining this guy is.