LAST year’s Adele spectacular paled in comparison to the hype that surrounded the lead up to Friday night’s Ed Sheeran concert at Optus Stadium.
Not only was it going to be the first music event at Perth’s newest jewel but on Wednesday it was announced Sheeran had made Australian and New Zealand concert history selling more than one million tickets across his seven city, 18 show ÷ (Divide) stadium tour (breaking Dire Straits’ 950,000 tickets record held since 1986).
So could seemingly everyone’s favourite English singer-songwriter deliver a knock-out show worthy of all the anticipation?
You’d better believe it, and unaccompanied, joined on stage by just his guitar and effect pedal.
Blue-hued lighting engulfed the stadium as emerging artist Fergus James had his first taste of fame to open the night before Missy Higgins continued the line-up with songs from across her discography including new album Solastalgia.
She began the first sing-along of many for the night with a cover of the Hunters and Collectors favourite, Throw Your Arms Around Me, commenting, despite her career longevity, of having never played to so many people before.
But it was the UK red-head everyone was there to see and under a full moon Sheeran walked on to the stage to a sea of smartphones at the ready and had the crowd hooked from the start with his opening beats of Castle on the Hill.
After telling everyone he felt “properly honoured to be playing tonight”, it was on to Eraser and 90 minutes of being mesmerised by watching this man at work.
There were jokes about having only 30 people attend Sheeran’s first Australian gig before The A Team and a quick explanation as to how everything heard on the night came from his microphone, guitar and loop station – following clearly offensive accusations of miming after his Glastonbury performance last year.
The talented performer wished everyone to leave the stadium aching from dancing, having lost their voice from singing and made a fool of themselves in front of him before launching in to Don’t mashed with New Man, followed by Dive.
Crowd participation was requested before Bloodstream, with an eager audience following instructions to put their arms in the air when the beat dropped and praised by Sheeran who said “Perth, I really love my job, this is so much fun”.
The tempo slowed slightly for Happier and I’m A Mess before he brought his carpenter PJ out on to the stage who, having recently divulged his pianist skills to Sheeran, accompanied him for How Would You Feel (Paean) which he is usually unable to play on tour.
Galway Girl ignited the masses before Feeling Good/I See Fire, Photograph and Perfect (during which a wedding proposal was made in the crowd) where it was sing-alongs galore.
Irish jigs were spotted down in the standing section in Nancy Mulligan where it flowed to the beautiful Thinking Out Loud and back to the dance-inducing Sing.
Despite the immense stadium size, Sheeran made it feel like an intimate night down at the pub, while happening to have a hit-laden set list and bucket-loads of talent.
For encore it was Shape of You and You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.
However, for this reviewer it was the final line of the earlier I See Fire that stood out on the night “And I hope that you’ll remember me”.
Ed Sheeran, Perth surely will.