REVIEW: U2 and Rolling Stones eat your hearts out... Ed Sheeran brings it back to basics
“Hi, my name is Ed,” announces the biggest sensation in popular music.
“My job for the next few hours is to entertain you.”
The ginger superstar opens with a song entitled 'I’m A Mess', but he certainly isn’t on this vast stage. U2 and the Rolling Stones can eat their hearts out, as Sheeran is setting a staggering new box office record. Bono or Mick Jagger couldn’t emulate this in their wildest dreams.
The ginger folk pop sensation is playing to 180,000 people over two nights in Croke Park entirely on his own.
Nobody in musical history has ever played solo concerts in Ireland on this daunting scale.
Sheeran only has two albums to his name, which makes these figures all the more astonishing.
In addition to being the most streamed artist in the world and the most frequently googled male celebrity on the planet, he spectacularly bucks every other modern musical trend going.
He sells truckloads of albums during a day and age when traditional over the counter record sales are in free fall.
With the benefit of three nights in Wembley Stadium to get him warmed up for Croker, Sheeran appears completely relaxed and totally up for it.
“I was nervous before the Wembley shows last week, but I’m so excited tonight,” he announces to deafening screams of delight.
Sheeran beautifully segues Nina Simone's soul classic 'I Feel Good' into his own composition 'Fire' as tens of thousands of mobile phones light up the darkening sky above Croke Park. Swords band Kodaline join him for a rousing stadium rock rendition of their hit 'All I Want'.
Apart from this very brief guest appearance, the stage belongs to Ed Sheeran alone.
The massive production dwarfs Sheeran, but there are no fancy bells or whistles. A year after the cancelled Garth Brooks shows and all the resulting fall out, Ed Sheeran rolls into town eschewing all the smokes, mirrors and tiresome clichés associated with showbiz.
Tonight is all about him, his guitar, and over 83,000 backing singers. “Just to let you know, this is a loop pedal,” he clarifies for the benefit of any doubters. "There are no backing tapes and everything you hear tonight comes out of this microphone and guitar."
Sheeran brings it all back to basics in the era of the slick and sophisticated stage show. In a notoriously slippery industry where all the good guys and girls are supposed to come last, Sheeran is blazing a spectacular trail, while writing himself into musical history in the whole crowd-pleasing process.