ED SHEERAN thrilled New Zealand fans throughout a nearly two-hour-long set at his sold-out ASB Theatre show last night in Auckland, performing an exemplary selection from his debut album '+', as well as two covers, and 'Homeless' from his 2010 'Loose Change' EP.
As soon as Sheeran stepped on-stage to perform his opening-track, 'Give Me Love', it became clear that my decision to forego ear-plugs for this show was a very grave mistake. With no backing-band - and only the aid of a loop pedal - it's easy to see why one would assume that a one-man-band show would be a relatively quiet affair, right? Wrong! Sheeran was accompanied by over 2000 teenage girls screaming at the top of their lungs, encouraged by the singer-songwriter as he engaged the audience to sing along in harmony.
Sheeran held the crowd in the palm of his hand right from 'hello' - and fittingly, a fan presented him with a bouquet of red roses. Ed declared that not only was it his first ever trip here, but also his very first headlining seated theatre show, before proceeding to tear through a lively acoustic version of his single, 'Drunk'.
'Homeless' and [one of my favourite '+' album songs] 'U.N.I.' were early highlights of the set, as well as 'Grade 8' during which Ed invited the audience to showcase their improv skills as he built instrumental and vocal loops for the song while abstract images were projected onto a backdrop made out of video screens: "If you don't know the words, just make them up it'll be more fun..."
Ed then teased his fans saying that: "If the world singed instead of screamed, it would be a happier place." It was now time to "chill or zen out" he insisted, trying to hush the audience during soul-stirring renditions of the folk song 'Wayfaring Stranger' and Nina Simone's 'Be My Husband', as well as his latest single, 'Small Bump'.
Throughout the night, Sheeran kept inviting fans to participate in "gospel choir" exercises, utilising the refrain "hell yeah" repeatedly. Ed also proved very fond of story-time, recounting adorable anecdotes between songs... like that time he passed out inebriated at his very first music festival while Arcade Fire were playing, waking up at 2am to find himself in quite a state at the First Aid Tent. Attendees at the show also went wild for Ed's 'Tuning Song', singing "bom chicka wah wah" in deafening tones, while Ed freestyle rapped and tuned his guitar.
As if his musical talents weren't already swoon-worthy enough, Sheeran melted hearts even further by explaining the sentiments behind his "sexy baby making music" song 'Kiss Me' - that his godfather proposed to his godmother at the age of 56 after they had both divorced [different partners] and asked Ed to write a song for them, to sing at their wedding. Which for the record, Ed would like you to know that is the reason why he left Snow Patrol's latest U.S. tour early, so that he could attend his godparent's wedding, not to go to rehab as the UK tabloids reported.
Other memorable moments included a 'Game Of Thrones' joke, a "get funky" reggae remix of 'Lego House', a re-enactment of 'West Side Story' pitting Sharks against Jets, and chants of "woop woop, that's the sound of the police." Honestly, you really just had to be there. But of course, it was during his autobiographical theme-song 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You' - during his two-song encore that also included 'The A Team' - that Sheeran really shone. With a [stuffed toy] tiger hood wrapped around his shoulders, Ed performed an extended version of the chronicles of his life thus far, causing fans to utterly lose their minds with the announcement of a New Zealand March 2013 tour. [Click HERE for more details on Ed Sheeran's 2013 NZ tour announcement.]
Anyone who may have initially doubted that Sheeran could entertain all on his lonesome, was thoroughly refuted as he tirelessly bounded from side-to-side of the stage with quick quips aplenty. Ed summed up the night best himself: "I didn't make music to sit in a room, this is what I love doing..."
1. Give Me Love
5. Grade 8
6. Wayfaring Stranger [ folk song cover ]
7. Small Bump
8. Be My Husband [ Nina Simone cover ]
10. The City
11. Kiss Me
12. Lego House
13. You Need Me, I Don't Need You
14. The A Team