Our Verdict: Ed Sheeran

Reviewed on 28 Apr 2017
  • Event review

    Ed Sheeran returned to our arena for the first time a few years (few years too long) to play in front of a sell-out crowd here at the Barclaycard Arena...and wow, it was a vintage Ed performance! 

    Before the King of the Charts took to the stage for first time since his ‘X Tour’, we were treated to two great support acts in the shape of Irish singer-songwriter Ryan McMullan and Ed’s pop pal Anne-Marie, both artists showcased their talents and made it clear to see why Teddy asked the pair to join him on tour.

    It was then time for the main man…Ed Sheeran.

    After taking to the stage, guitar in hand, Ed gave a quick wave to the Birmingham crowd before slowly piecing together the components for Castle On The Hill with the assistance of his foot-pedal...and it sounded incredible.

    It’s quite a cliche thing to say, but the way he commands the stage with just his voice and a 6-string is absolutely mind blowing. No dance routines, not over the top production, no band, just a bloke and his guitar with 15,000 fans hanging on his every word.

    Before the gig Ed said: "It's Friday tonight, meaning you can sing all night, lose your voices and do nothing tomorrow 'cos it's Saturday" - with this in mind, you Brummies didn't half make some noise!

    Now, SPOILER ALERT, if you’re planning on coming to Ed’s second show which takes place tonight here at the Barclaycard Arena, then now’s the time to look away now 'cos we're talking all about the setlist.

    Ed’s 90 minute show consisted of a perfect balance of classics from +, our faves from X and of course, the majority of hits from his record breaking, history making Number 1 album, ÷.

    Sheeran composed the show in typical Ed fashion weaving slower, more emotional songs like Dive, Happier and How Would You Feel together with his upbeat, sing-a-longers such as Bloodstream, Don’t (mixed with New Man) and everyone’s fave track to jig too, Galway Girl.

    Ed reminisced about the first gig he played in Birmingham, it was over at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath. The sound system broke, he had no mic and was set to perform in front a few hundred in a small box room. "First time I played in Brum everything went wrong and I ended up just standing on a table and sang. Things have changed a bit now.." it's clear than Ed hasn't forgotten his routes and appreciates his rise from tiny rooms to arena shows.

    Talking of the arena show set up, Ed kept the production fairly lowkey, but the subtle changes to the screens helped set a different mood / story to each performance, it wasn’t OTT, it was perfect. Favourite production moment had to be during Bloodstream, the lights flickered along with every strum of the guitar and strobe echoed the bassy slaps on Ed’s guitar, it was breathtaking.

    Also during Bloodstream, Ed had the whole crowd stick one hand in the air and bounce on his command, like a 90's hip-hop gig and the result...a hypnotic wave consisting of thousands in sync fans.

    Seems as Ed's new album has been out for a little over 8 weeks, it was surprising that the Birmingham lot knew every single word to every single song as they bellowed back to their acoustic hero - actually, thinking about it - ÷ has been streamed like a billon times so no wonder you lot were loving it.

    Ed began to ramp things up towards the end of gig with upbeat performances of Nancy Mulligan before ending on Sing - which in suitable fashion had everyone doing just that. The atmosphere from start to finish was through the roof with the standing area looking like a dance floor as everyone gave it their all! 

    Sheeran disappeared off stage leaving us all still chanting along to Sing, hoping he'd return to give us just a few more songs, and well, he didn't let us down.

    Ed returned to the stage for a two-song encore featuring the Shape Of You, which spent 15 weeks at the No. 1 spot in the UK Charts before ending on You Need Me, I Don't Need You and track which along with A-Team helped put Ed Sheeran on the map.

    I've seen Ed Sheeran perform 5 or 6 times now and each time he's always performed YNMIDNY slightly differently - sometimes with more build on the intro, others a bit more stripped back and once with a bunch of UK rappers - but tonight, Teddy went back to a version very similar to the + album track and boy, it sounded like vintage Ed. It's was the perfect end to the perfect show.


    One man, a few guitars and 15,000 fans hanging on his every word. No matter how many times you've seen / heard Ed Sheeran perform, he never fails to impress. Talented, cool and again, delivered the perfect performance in front of a sell out Birmingham crowd.

    Reviewed by   Todd Newton