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.


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


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.


Passenger: Australian Winter Tour Review

It’s always a pleasure to see Passenger, AKA Mike Rosenberg. The English-born artist, who attracts just as much attention busking out on the streets as he does at sold-out venues, is touring across Australia before returning to support fellow Brit Ed Sheeran during the North American leg of his world tour.

When Rosenberg steps out onto the stage with just one acoustic guitar, he seems truly gobsmacked at the amount of applause he receives. “I wasn’t sure how it would go just because I haven’t got a new album out,” he says. “I’ve been blown away by the crowd and how many people have come down. Australia is my second home, it’s wonderful.”

With little urging, we belt out the lyrics to ‘Holes’ and the crowd favourite ‘I Hate’ – and those of us who can whistle try to do so as loud as possible during ‘Caravan’. Having asked his Facebook fans to pick the setlist, Rosenberg’s put together a good mix of old and new. There are songs from the 2009 album Wide Eyes Blind Love, tracks off the most recent album, All the Little Lights, a couple of new songs and covers of the Simon & Garfunkel classic ‘The Sound of Silence’ and Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

The covers are particularly intriguing as they’ve been tweaked with the signature Passenger style – slightly folky acoustic arrangements that bring out the songs’ subtleties.

Not only is Rosenberg a sharp lyricist when penning his own tracks, but he has great guitar chops to boot, and when he steps away from the microphone to strum and stomp, we can’t help but be a little mesmerised. When the guitar stops and it’s just his voice ringing out over a completely silent crowd, the intimate atmosphere is heightened.

On stage, Rosenberg is as charming as ever. In between songs, he tells stories cunningly designed to make you laugh or cry – and either way you can’t help but feel as if you’re old friends. There’s dead silence when he tells us about an elderly man he met in Denmark who was travelling the around world alone, on a trip he was meant to take with his wife before she passed away. This story is half of the inspiration behind the new track ‘Travelling Alone’.

It doesn’t matter whether you see him busking on a street corner or performing on a stage, Passenger’s imaginative, story-telling lyrics and beautiful melodies never fail to impress.


This review is published on the Time Out site too!