Ed Sheeran at Wembley Stadium
Few artists can claim exponential global domination in the past decade like Ed Sheeran, a once unknown, independent singer-songwriter gigging in the small pubs of Suffolk. Five chart-topping mathematically-inspired albums, several hiatuses, one court case and countless world tours later, the artist returns confidently to Wembley Stadium for a five-night run. Putting on a two-hour show of over 20 tracks, combining big stadium energy and more intimate track magic, it’s a winning formula for his legions of fans.
The staging is the first thing one notices: an ambitious set with a conveyor belt stage and guitar pick-shaped screens. It’s designed to make the expansive venue feel less disconnected and it actually kind of works, with Sheeran commenting it feels like he’s “in Yo Sushi”. The introduction of a band is the only mismatch, awkwardly scattered around and feeling a little bit lost in the crowd – if anything reaffirming the artist’s undeniable solo stage presence. Even a technical hiccup at the start barely throws him, as he launches into a well received acoustic rendition of The A Team instead.
Unsurprisingly, everything else is well calculated and slick – and there really is a bit of everything, from the glittering phone lights of Perfect to anthemic stadium-perfect Sing or fiddle-featuring Galway Girl. There’s some from the latest record =, most notably Bad Habits and Overpass Graffiti, but, surprisingly, it’s earlier material like Give Me Love, Lego House and Photograph that strikes a sweeter chord when converted into a grander production, simultaneously proving the singer is not bored playing any of these just yet.
The beauty of an Ed Sheeran gig is that pretty much every track is already an airplay hit. It’s hard to pick just one highlight; he even incorporates medleys just to cram more in. The singer manages to jump convincingly from up-tempo to ballad without disrupting the flow, which helps avoid the risk of blending into generic earworm pop. Armed with his signature guitar, it’s clear this is a musician who knows exactly how to get the crowd going. If anything, it begins to feel a little too polished, but his use and explanation of his loop station and live layering such as in Bloodstream and Shivers, alongside talking about his songwriting process, helps keep the evening grounded.
“You could be at Glastonbury, the Stones, Elton… but you’ve chosen this concert.” The performer addresses the magic of playing Wembley and it’s certainly translated into his energy and delivery. His very first album + features the lyrics “Won’t stop til my name’s in lights at stadium heights”, which he repeats in the closer of You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. Declaring this his favourite night of the tour so far, it’s safe to say this ambition has been truly earned and surpassed – and it’d be safer to bet those lights aren’t dimming anytime soon.
For further information and future events visit Ed Sheeran’s website here.
Watch the video for the single 2Step here: