A couple days ago, my mom and I went to see Ed Sheeran live in concert. We have been eagerly looking forward to this show for months, and he absolutely did not disappoint.
I have adored Ed Sheeran’s music since the very first time I heard “the a Team” probably three or so years ago. There is something about his voice, his words and the way it all comes together with his guitar strumming that has always really resonated with me. Growing up surrounded in music, I can really appreciate the talent and insane skill that it takes to put his work together, but until I saw him live, I had no actual idea just how insanely talented he really was.
When I bought the tickets months ago, it was through the Amex presale, and I knew the they would be in high demand. I was ready and waiting with multiple tablets all geared up for the second that the clock struck 10. I took the first pair of tickets that I got, and although I wasn’t really thrilled with how high up they were, there was no way in heck I was giving them up and taking my chances on something different. As it turns out, the presale tickets were all sold out by the time I finished my transaction, and if I had let them go, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get any at all.
As luck would have it, after we climbed the approximately 8700 stairs to get to our seats, we discovered that they were pretty much dead straight on to the stage. Score! Sure, we were only about 15 rows from the too of the arena, but we were facing the stage so we could “see” ( and trust me, I use that term lightly) what was going on.
The show started with the opening act, Rixton. You may know these guys from their hit “Me and my broken heart”. I happen to love that song, so was quite excited to see them. I hadn’t heard any of their other songs, but everything I heard I really liked, and I will be buying the album soon. The band was completely adorable and awesome, engaging with the audience, calling out a dude near the front who was paying no attention to them because he was glued to his phone screen, taking a selfie with a girl and her friend, and generally holding everyone’s attention despite the knowledge that most people probably hadn’t even heard of them before. Sometimes chatter during a concert can annoy me, but the guys from Rixton seemed to know how much they could get away with before it became too much. One of my favourite parts was when the lead singer broke out his Beyoncé dance moves and covered “Crazy in Love.” Really. How could you not enjoy that? They had everything from super choreographed moves to some kind of dorky looking ones, but they were perfect and funny and an amazing opener to the show. As an added bonus, for all you social media or music geeks, they followed me on Twitter after the show. That makes me cool, right?
Then it was time for Ed. You could pretty much feel the whole stadium vibrating in anticipation, all 20,000 people there for different reasons, from different ages and stages of life, all united in their love of the music of Ed Sheeran. He opened with “I’m a mess” and every single person in that stadium fell in love. It was literally just him on the stage, with his guitars, microphones and loop pedal system that he made a point of pointing out. He noted that he had had his first complaint ever, from a couple in Winnipeg who felt like they got ripped off because he played to a backing track and with a band that you couldn’t see. As he explained this the camera panned to his feet to show the loop pedals, and he noted that every single note, very sound came from him – no band, no singers, no back-up tracks, just him. He told us all that his job was to sing, and that no one was looking around them, so to sing and dance and have the time of your life.
How anyone could complain about that show is beyond me. I sat there in amazement as he played song after song, watching and listening as he literally laid down track after track to give depth and layers to the songs. This is the kind of thing that would normally be done in the studio, but nope, he did it live in front of 20,000 fans. At one point, during “Bloodstream”, I almost felt as though I couldn’t breathe, that I was being swallowed by the music. It was probably one of the most intense musical experiences of my life. It swelled and built and thumped and pulsed through me until it felt like there was nothing but the music and me, this crazy void filled with sound. I know it sounds insane, but it kind of was, one guy producing that kind of intensity with just him and a guitar. It was unreal.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a bit of a backstory when it comes to his music. As I mentioned before, I have loved loved it for years, but when my dad was dying, it took on a whole new level for me. One day, just before the end, dad was no longer able to talk. My sister and I were sitting with him, talking, remembering, holding his hands. My dad always loved music and was a talented musician, and so I thought about what he might want and started to play music off my phone for him. I went through all of his favourites, and then I came to a song I had heard in my car on the drive to the hospital that day. It was “All of the stars” and as I listened to the words, I knew they were something special. I didn’t know if Dad had ever heard that one before, but I played it anyways. For the first time in hours, Dad turned his head a tiny bit to look at me, and tried to squeeze my hand. He liked it. We played that song for him a few times that day and after he died, I knew we had to include it somehow. The day after he died, once again I was driving in my car when “Photograph” came on my iPod. I don’t know what it was that made me listen so carefully to the words, but I did, and I actually had to pull the car over because I was crying so hard. We included both songs in the slideshow my brother-in-law out together for his memorial service, and they couldn’t have been more perfect. I will forever be grateful that I was able to share that song with my dad in his last days and, I hope, give him some comfort with it.
So even though he won’t ever see it, thank you Ed. Your songs brought a whole lot of comfort to me and a lot of other people during the worst time in my life.
As you might expect, I cried throughout “Photograph”, singing the words through the tears streaming down my face. I am going to guess that I wasn’t alone in those tears, though. It’s a pretty powerful song. “Thinking out loud” nearly brought the house down, and there were some pretty incredible covers in there, including my personal favourite, “No diggity”, which has been one of my favourite songs for a long, long time, and Stevie Wonder’s “I was made to love her” . I swear, during “I see fire”, there were at least a half dozen vocal parts singing in harmony and my mind was blown. Again. There were times when he asked the audience to sing and he sang harmony, which was the coolest thing I have ever heard, I think it made pretty much everyone in the stadium feel like they were singing a duet with him, despite the other 19,999 people who felt the same way.
Ed Sheeran really can do it all and do it well. Rarely does someone come along that has that much raw and real talent packed into one body. He is the real deal. I could totally keep talking about this for ages, but since this is a post, it does need to end at some point, haha. If you ever have the chance to see him live in concert DO IT! I know I will be seeing him again.