After lovely weather all weekend, it started bucketing it down in proper Irish summer style as soon as Mr Sheeran stepped foot on land. What else would he expect?
After three nights in Cork, he graced the HUGE stage in Boucher Playing Fields on Wednesday night. With a football match in Windsor and Noel Gallagher in SSE Arena, the people of Belfast were surely spoilt for choice.
With support from Beoga, only the masterminds behind ‘Nancy Mulligan,’ signed act Jamie Lawson and decade-long friend Anne-Marie, the crowd were in for a treat!
Emerging new talent Anne-Marie has just released her debut album, ‘Speak Your Mind,’ and showcased some of the new material to the Northern Irish fans. The crowd went wild at hits like ‘Ciao Adios‘ and ‘Rockabye,’ 2016’s Christmas number one with Sean Paul and Clean Bandit.
Other crowd pleasures included ‘Perfect,’ a song about being nothing of the sort as she doesn’t believe in the word, ‘Alarm,’ a song to heat herself and the crowd up from the cold by becoming angry as it’s a song about a cheating boyfriend, and recent singles ‘2002,’ co-written by none other but Ed himself, and ‘F R I E N D S,’ a song about the dreaded friend’s zone.
But then the moment we’ve all been waiting for, everyone’s favourite ginge stepped onto the stage, the two massive ‘divide’ signs to the sides of the stage turning into screens, to promote his most recent album. Kicking off with ‘Castle On The Hill‘ released last year to start his attempt at world domination, and he was pretty close. ‘Divide‘ topped the charts in both sides of the Atlantic, as well as Australia, 14 countries in total, and made it into (at least) the top 5 everywhere else.
Afterwards, he addressed the audience, stating that this was the biggest venue he’s ever played in Northern Ireland, after previously playing the SSE Arena (then the Odyssey) in 2014. He reminisced about his first gig in the country, where a measly 200 people turned up, compared to the 40,000 that night, at a Cool FM gig even before his debut single, which he broke into, ‘The A Team.’ Little did he know back then that that song was going to catapult him into stardom.
“You know my favourite thing about outdoor venues?” he shouted to the excited audience. “The sun.” He told the crowd that because of the vast field he could see everyone, compared to the first six or seven rows in an arena. Self-confessed awkward dancer, he told of how he goes to his favourite bands and singer’s shows and stands still with a scared look in his eyes. He didn’t want anyone in the audience to do that. “Everyone’s looking at the stage, no-one’s looking at you. [Just let go].”
That broke into a medley of ‘Don’t,’ the second single from his sophomore album rumoured to be about his relationship with Ellie Goulding and Niall Horan, and ‘New Man,’ off the new record and co-written by Londoner Jessie Ware.
What followed was a string of hits, from ‘Dive‘ to ‘Bloodstream‘ the latter of which featured Rudimental and co-written by Snow Patrol members Johnny McDaid and Gary Lightbody, what could’ve been thee start to the beautiful work relationship between Sheeran and McDaid, the Derry man who helped co-write a lot of his new album.
Personal favourite was what followed, latest single ‘Happier.’ The song depicts the end of a relationship and dealing with the other person moving on and seeing them with someone else. The music video was released last week and the famous puppet that was used in his ‘Sing‘ video made an appearance. A rather comical video to accompany possibly one of his saddest songs, although arguably not as sad as ‘Small Bump‘ or ‘U N I,‘ which, sadly, didn’t make an appearance on the setlist that night.
What did appear though, were crowd pleasures such as ‘I See Fire‘ and ‘I’m A Mess,’ as well as a cover of 1964 classic ‘Feelin’ Good.’
Popular tear-jerking singles ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ ‘Photograph‘ and Christmas number one with none other than Queen B herself, ‘Perfect,‘ followed, before Ed reintroduced Beoga to the stage for the original ‘Galway Girl‘ as well as his own and ‘Nancy Mulligan.’ The Northern Irish crowd went wild jiving away to the beats they’re used to dancing along to in their local pub at the weekend.
Ed finished the night with singles ‘Sing,’ ‘Shape Of You‘ and the extended hyper version of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You‘ to giant cheers that I’m sure could be heard all over the city.
It’s not often such a huge star makes an appearance, not taking festivals into account, and it was rather refreshing for our wee country.