Confession: I’m not an Ed Sheeran fan. I know a couple of his songs, and I know he’s the biggest selling male pop artist currently. But his music doesn’t really appeal to me. I actually didn’t know the song he opened with for his Singapore show last Saturday (it was Castle on the Hill and I had to ask a colleague what the song title was). But though I wasn’t familiar with his tunes, I have to say that Ed Sheeran is one hell of a performer on stage, and a great singer to boot.
We had gotten some time ahead of the show to catch some words with him and Instagram Lived that interview and he was in an upbeat mood. Six weeks ago, Sheeran fell off a bike riding down a steep hill. He broke a wrist, an elbow and a rib and he headed to the pub for a drink, went home and slept before he had to be taken to the hospital 5am the next day, as he revealed on the Jonathan Ross show a few weeks ago. He had to cancel some shows prior to Singapore on the Divide Tour, named for his current album. It was, as he mentioned in the interview, his first time cancelling shows. “I’m still recovering,” he told his 10,000-strong audience at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It was his first performance in six weeks, and Sheeran was clearly out to impress Singapore and assure the rest of his fans with tickets to his Divide Tour shows that he was in roaring good form. And he did not disappoint.
With the use of tools like auto-tuning, lip-syncing and dramatic set technology, some musicians have taken an easy route out of entertaining live. Sheeran, a one-man show with a guitar, doesn’t quite have the option of doing the same. He spoke about possibly bringing on a band in the future (“I’m ready to give it a try”) but as he pointed out, he’s never had the experience of playing with a band so it’s a question of how to integrate a band into his act.
While the set of the Indoor Stadium is fantastic, it’s a big stage for one person and a guitar. Sheeran did manage to fill that stage well, constantly moving around to make sure he doesn’t miss out any part of the crowd and he’s great at getting the audience to get in on the action. A couple of songs in, he had everyone get their phones out in lieu of the old lighter-at-a-concert practice. “Turn on the lights on your phone!” he shouts and everyone, young and old, gets in on the action.
Later, he jokes about the lads getting in on the action as well.
And he’s frankly a brilliant live singer. He hit all the difficult notes while jamming away and mixing it up with guitar tricks. He even invited his stage hand and Dubliner PJ Smith, who happens to be a pianist, to join him and charmed the audience with How Would You Feel. A music critic at the show later gently pointed out that Sheeran was slightly off on Castle on the Hill, but we both agreed it was nothing considering this was the first public performance he’d made since the accident. One would surely be slightly jittery.
And all the hits were played. From the much beloved Galway Girl to A Team, Perfect, Photograph, Shape of You and much more. The set list was a whopping 17 songs. It was an ambitious plan for a return to the stage and Sheeran did well. So even though I wasn’t a Sheeran fan, I certainly enjoyed his performance. Right up until I was given a sort of ultimatum by security to put my pocket camera away because filming or shooting photos with an actual camera is forbidden. Though cell phones are just fine. I wasn’t sure if that was a restriction by Warner Music or the Indoor Stadium. So I stepped out just before the concert closed, to see touters selling Ed Sheeran tees across the road for $20. I’m not yet a Sheeran fan, but I’m definitely a fan of his concerts.
P.S. We’re giving away three signed posters of Ed Sheeran on our Facebook page. Click here to find out how you can win one! Contest ends 24th November.