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ED SHEERAN @ Optus Stadium gets 7/10

Ed Sheeran @ Optus Stadium
w/ Missy Higgins, Fergus James
Friday, March 2, 2018


On a full moon hospital admissions allegedly spike and the crazies come out for no reason at all. This month’s full moon crazy was with plenty of reason though, when Ed Sheeran took to the stage last Friday.

After plenty of news items regarding the footbridge not being completed for the new Optus Stadium, concertgoers were made very aware about making prior travel arrangements and asked to take into consideration the delays that could potentially occur. That said, getting in via public transportation was outstandingly streamlined, something Transperth can finally pride themselves on.

First support for the evening, Fergus James had the trickling of an audience shoe tapping away to an easy pop number. For an Ed Sheeran concert he was probably a good selection but he could have been a member of 5 Seconds of Summer or the Australian Shawn Mendes to put his musical complexity into perspective.

Missy Higgins

Taking it up to the expected stadium tour standard saw Missy Higgins bring back a flood of nostalgia from the early 2000’s with 10 Days. She looked a lot more understated than her earlier days with an air of maturity and humbleness as she admitted it was the biggest crowd she’d ever played to. She played a new one before taking to the piano for The Special Two and a most poetic, heartfelt version of Hunters and Collectors’ Throw Your Arms Around Me. It was a very opportune song to highlight her vocal strength. Performing it for the first time, Futon Couch described meeting her now husband and her love affair with Broome.

Ed Sheeran

A prompt 30 minutes later saw the dimming of the lights and a hand camera following Ed Sheeran making his way from backstage to the arena. He entered with such ease and calm, which was initially a vote of confidence in him. Starting out valiantly with Castle on the Hill, the screens were of rolling clouds and green pastures – a homage to home, and his British roots.

Regarding the set up, the screens backing him were impressive as a hub of interesting visual displays but not entirely inclusive for the audience. For audience members sitting hundreds of rows back it really was lacking in the ability to feel close to the performer. That said this hub did a good job at filling the stage with him. You almost had to question whether there would even be enough space for a band.

Ed Sheeran

After playing The A Team he gave the masses a very explicit explanation of the looping station and that everything was created here tonight – debunking the myth that he lip syncs or sings to backing tracks. With that out of the way he compelled the audience to make fools of themselves, lose their voices from singing and become tired from dancing before launching into Don’t Mess With My Love.

The longer the performance went on the more I ogled at how such a geeky average Joe looking guy could cover the stage with such confidence. He was such a well-oiled performer that I begun to question whether a small sense of fear is something we need, to feel a sense of authenticity, to feel close to or relate to the performer. Sure, there were moments of common ground but it was marginally impersonal as Sheeran was positioned to be an unreachable higher being when he asked the crowds for ‘favors’ and charmingly instructed them to wave their arms or participate in some way.

Ed Sheeran

Bloodstream saw some intense visuals licking the walls as he erupted into a fiery full crescendo before taking it down a notch with Happier. The loop game was on strong when he began with a lilting, three-part harmony and in the background an old broken, spotted film aesthetic complimented it well.

After thanking PJ the carpenter for the box on which he stood he invited him on stage to play the piano to a lovely little ballad – How Would You Feel (Paean). He picked it up with Galway Girl, which saw a few people in the seating section rise and want to dance in their seats. The crowd marshals however, did not tolerate this spot of fun.

With an acoustic rendition of a Bublè song he transitioned smoothly into I See Fire as a few love songs ran their course with Photograph and Perfect, ending in a successful proposal in Block 140.

Ed Sheeran Crowd

The lighting strips at the top of the stadium finally gave the arena bit more life as it was lit up for Sing. You Need Me, I Don’t Need You started off with a bit of beatboxing that just fell a little by the wayside.

Overall Ed really was the entertainer that everyone expected but his minimalist approach to production really left a lot of punters seemingly perturbed. After selling a record 1,000,000 tickets throughout Australia and New Zealand you’d hope his other 11 shows are put on with a little more consideration for the audience.


Photos by Paul Dowd

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