Ed Sheeran: Tuesday March 5

I wrote this review for Time Out Melbourne, it’s quite tame considering all I wanted to do was scream out “I love you, Ginger Jesus!!” from the mosh.

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The beat-boxing slash love song extraordinaire serenades Melbourne, again.

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One guitar and a loop station is all Ed Sheeran needs to have a sold-out venue full of starry eyed fans flailing with excitement and awe. As Sheeran walks onto the stage in a red tee which clashes brilliantly with his hair and an acoustic guitar, the eruption of applause confirms that although it’s only been five months since his last tour, fans have been counting the days until his return.

With the setlist mostly from his triple platinum album +, the crowd eagerly chants the lyrics to the chart-topping singles including ‘Drunk’, ‘Lego House’ and ‘Give Me Love’, tracks off his earlier EPs and after some practice runs, nails the cover songs too.

It puts a massive smile on Sheeran’s face when the lyrics are screamed back to him, encouraged by his words: “We will judge you if you don’t sing!” His lyrics melt into shouts and screams whenever Sheeran added an extra, crazy fast rap verse to a song, but somehow the crowd manages to keep up when he mashes the chorus of Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’ into the extended version of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’.

It’s something special to see Sheeran sing a duet with his mate Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) who’s been on tour with him for the past 15 months. They take a verse each from Passenger’s own song ‘Hearts on Fire’ and sing together for the chorus, each armed with only an acoustic guitar. While Sheeran certainly deserves all the applause he gets, it’s refreshing to actually hear him sing this song without the echo of a thousand fans.

At last year’s gig it was impressive when the audience of the Palais Theatre fell utterly silent upon request. Achieving the same result at a sold out show at Festival Hall tonight just goes to show how captivating a performer and songwriter Sheeran truly is. We’re stunned into silence when ‘The Parting Glass’ – a hidden bonus track from the album ‘+’ – begins playing. With just his one guitar, Sheeran strips the traditional Scottish and Irish song right back before morphing the tune into ‘The A-Team’ for one hell of a finale.

It’s not just his rapping that’s speedy, Sheeran also has a knack for strumming and thumping his guitar fast enough to actually break strings. Almost inevitably, tonight is no different. By the end of the evening, Sheeran’s hair is dripping with sweat but he’s the type of artist that you’re more than willing to suffer through a hot, damp mosh pit for.

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Gig review: Ed Sheeran, Melbourne 03/08/12

The “ginger Jesus” gets hearts racing at the Palais.

The walls of the theatre are shaking from the screams of thousands of fangirls as the British singer walks out in an orange tee that’s a slightly brighter shade than his own hair. He opens with a love song from his album ‘+’, ‘Give Me Love’ and the crowd goes nuts – because with the clever use of a loop pedal, Sheeran makes it seem as if he’s working with a full band when really he’s just incredibly talented with the one acoustic guitar he has on stage. The audience, he labels the ‘Melbourne Gospel Choir’ – and we become the lower and higher harmonies. With the acoustics at the Palais, it sounds incredible.

The gospel choir is again enlisted for ‘Homeless’, ‘The City’, and the Nina Simone cover ‘Be My Husband’. It’s not a singing contest, Sheeran says: “Just sing as loud as you can.” There are few souls in the crowd not up on their feet during the 10-minute extended version of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’, and we’re hopelessly trying to keep up with him as he beat-boxes and raps so fast as to leave Drake or Eminem in his dust.

Traditional folk song ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ is heartstopping when the music drops out and Sheeran belts out the last verse a capella. There’s something quite spectacular about his voice ringing out into the Palais with no music or screaming, although there’s the odd gasp from awed fans. Those who decide this is a good time to scream out “I love you!” are quickly shushed.

When he sings ‘Kiss Me’ – a song he wrote for his godparents’ wedding – Sheeran politely asks the crowd not to sing along to this acoustic rendition. Irrespective of whether it’s one of the big radio hits or a softer melody, the fans erupt with applause and scream until their voices are hoarse. Really, it just goes to show how diverse and genre-defying Sheeran’s music is.

The night ends with the Palais turning into a sea of lights as mobile phones are waved in sync with the song that first put Sheeran on the charts, ‘The A Team’ and as per his request, everyone belts out the last line. He’s easy-going on stage with a boyish charm that makes him seem like the kind of chap you’d be happy to bring home to the folks.

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This is also published on the Time Out Melbourne site!