Saturday 23rd February, 2013 – Review by Adrienne Downes.
Photos By Chris Kerr.
A passionate horde of fans trailed the entrance to Challenge Stadium last Saturday night for the long awaited arrival of British sensation ED SHEERAN. With followers ranging from the young teeny boppers desperate for a view of their popstar crush to aged appreciators of good acoustic music, all were set for a night of awe inspiring refrains and a carefully crafted harmonies, showing how one simple acoustic guitar and some rich vocals can create an intense and captivating show which few can hope to achieve.
The night begun with GABRIELLE ALPIN, a twenty year old British singer-songwriter who found fame from posting cover songs on YouTube. Dressed in a black T and skull patterned skort, Alpin not only kept her crowd mesmerised by her petite frame but by her gorgeous vocal tone and delicate acoustic strumming. Beautiful runs and pretty lyrics expressed a powerful young lady’s assessment of love and the heart. Her refreshing set drew from a wealth of original material, including her UK number 1 hit, a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love.‘
PASSENGER, led by Mike Rosenberg, brought yer more British acoustic glory to the stadium to follow. Smooth, gorgeous tones of indie-pop and folk rock enthralled the enthusiastic audience in preparation for Sheeran’s headlining set, the highlight being a number about everything Passenger hates. Rosenberg encouraged the audience to sing along during the chorus and opened with a line about hating racists, meaning in his eyes, if you didn’t sing along, well, you were a racist. He was comical, charismatic and very entertaining; without a doubt Passenger gained some fans, many of whom are sure to join him for his headlining show in March at the Astor Theatre.
While the supports were charming, it was the ginger himself that brought everyone to Challenge Stadium that evening. Main man Ed Sheeran strolled onto the stage, dressed in his staple jeans, T-shirt attire and cradling his acoustic guitar; he was ready to dominate. Opening on ‘Give Me Love,’ spectators erupted as they screamed the popular single into the vastness of the stadium roof. A sold out show, since the release of tickets February 2013, people were ready to be taken on the journey of a young man who somehow made it big.
The power of an acoustic guitar bewitched the crowd as not one other instrument was in sight, recreating the sounds of his records effortlessly. With the help of a looper pedal and an additional vocal effects microphone, the layers created for each ditty left fans gob-smacked. The strums of Sheeran’s guitar were connected to the LED screens behind, and as the song intensified, so did the visuals. Three part harmonies forged above the beauty of Sheeran’s extensive vocal range added to the perfection of his sound.
“If you aren’t going to sing, you’ve come to the wrong show,” he exclaimed, constantly encouraging the participants to join him as the Gospel choir of Perth. Splitting the crowd in low and high harmonies, a beaming crowd screamed along to hits like ‘Drunk’, ‘U.N.I.’ and ‘Grade 8.’ The high-velocity rapping was gripping, leaving the audience shocked as to how a man could remunerate so many lyrics without losing his breath. Words can’t describe how intuitively each song was built through the looping of a beat by hitting the drum, a synth part created through his vocals or a snare through the tap of the guitar strings. The show progressed through heights of joyous anthems to the depths of a capella lullabies.
The serenading ‘Kiss Me,’ written for his parent’s friends who got married after 50 years of friendship, was an intimate and beautiful highlight. If every young lady in the house didn’t already have a soft spot for this singer-songwriter, they surely did by the end of this song. Before the encore he finished on popular ‘Lego House.’
After a brief intermission Sheeran returned and launched into a ten minute chorale version of ‘You Need Me Man, I Don’t Need You,’ featuring looped beat boxing, vocal harmonies and even a mash up with #1 hottest 100 hit ‘Thrift Shop.’ He worked the stage standing on fold backs and bass amps, before closing the show with ‘A Team,’ as the lights from phones held to the heavens lit the building from floor to ceiling.
Sheeran hit, strummed, plucked, thumped, rapped and beat boxed his way into the hearts of every single person in the building. His sold out tour continues across Australia through February and March, if you missed out this time, do not fret – with a crowd response like this, he’ll be back in a heartbeat.