Ed Sheeran at the O2 ArenaCultureMusicLive music
Ed Sheeran has created solidarity in spite of any division for his new album Divide’s tour. Though he transforms the atmosphere throughout the concert, there is one constant: every member of the audience in the gargantuan O2 Arena is singing at the top of their lungs, dancing like no one else is there, and swaying as one. Despite his massive success, the English singer-songwriter not only stays true to his humble beginnings with his personal songs – describing the journey he’s taken from homelessness to selling out such a massive arena – but also through his actions and anecdotes about fame. Sheeran seamlessly plays song after song, with new mashups and riffs embedded throughout. Though he’s the one holding the microphone, it seems the audience is equal to him.
The A Team brings the crowd down from their Eraser-induced speed-rapping to a slow, wistful unison. The emotion inflicted in each word has not changed since the release of the single, and one of the only differences from his earlier days is the size of the audience. As soon as he finishes, the light pulsate as he spins into the swift rap that is Don’t. He uses loops, the only thing helping him and his guitar, to echo intricate melodies in conjunction with guitar-tapped beats as he harmonizes with himself. Remaining faithful to his one-man show origins, he mixes bits of New Man with pieces of Don’t while creating a full-band effect all by himself.
It is in ballads such as Dive, Perfect, Happier, and, of course, Thinking Out Loud that a chorus of swaying fans provide backup in spite of their various levels of familiarity with life. Couples waltz and gaze in each other’s eyes, and friends sing as if only to each other. As Sheeran croons “kiss me under the lights of a thousand stars”, flashlights beam across the dark arena, flickering like stars, in an instance of pure emotion. The pulsating lights, beats and effects come back on for the more upbeat numbers such as Sing, Shape of You, and Nancy Mulligan. The crowd switches as easily as him from wedding songs to club anthems, and helps him transform the mood from eager to melancholy and back again.
Ed Sheeran somehow unifies the diverse album that is Divide and merges it with his previous works to create something truly intimate. Thousands of people aside, the night feels like it is between only Sheeran and you.
Photo: Margot M