Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand
April 11, 2015
Reviewed by Jessica Suo
Photos by Erica McQueen
A single spotlight tracks Mr Ed Sheeran to centre stage as he begins his first of two sold-out Auckland shows. Sheeran performs as a completely solo act; his show – with 14 big screens and 40-odd spotlights – has only one job, and that’s to bring your eyes, ears, mind and heart to the focus of one man and his guitar.
Without a word from Sheeran – but in an eardrum bursting bevy of intensity – his set begins with I’m A Mess. The screens project stop-motion footage of Lego versions of Sheeran and Rupert Grint prancing, for over 10,000 to see.
As Sheeran’s signature looping starts, so does the biggest song from his second album, x. His remix includes snippets of Loyal as well as No Diggity. followed by Drunk. Every time Sheeran’s tattooed right arm slaps the wooden face of his iconic acoustic electric guitar, the bass thunders throughout the arena and you can feel it resonating inside your body.
Sheeran displays his abilities to rap better than most of us can dream of in Take It Back, which he mashes with Superstition and Ain’t No Sunshine. Next, Photograph and a crazed rendition of Bloodstream.
As Sheeran claims “this is the only quiet song in the set”. The now silent arena darkens as Tenerife Sea echoes. The shimmering lights of smart phones twinkle among the audience. More stars can be seen than that of the Auckland CBD. It is a truly breath-taking sight, panning around all those delicate lights in the sky. Next comes a tranquil Thinking Out Loud.
Sheeran does a wonderful arrangement of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, before seamlessly transitioning into his infamous I See Fire. As they do with all his songs, the fans sing alongside Sheeran. Coming into the chorus, clapping and cheering, orange and red lights cover them. The human fire engulfs the arena, swaying more beautifully and jumping more freely than any real flames. Sheeran then plays his first big hit, A-Team.
A lone shard of light cocoons Sheeran as the last song of his main set, Give Me Love begins. He halves the audience to join him in two different harmonies for the final chorus; it's a testament to organised mess and sing-a-longs.
A cohesive crowd comes together, stomping, slapping chairs, screaming, clapping and singing in desperation for their dear Sheeran to return to the stage. The encore begins with a zealous, extended performance of You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, with excerpts from Fancy scattered throughout.
The night ends with the first single from x, Sing. The lights dim and Sheehan leaves the stage in darkness. As they say, gone but definitely not forgotten.
I’m a mess
Take it back/ Superstition/Ain’t No Sunshine
Thinking Out Loud
Feeling Good/I See Fire
The A Team
Give Me Love
You Need Me I Don’t Need You/Fancy