Deafening female screams, absolutely deafening. This was the initial sensory experience induced by a young British, jean-wearing, freshly-inked Rupert Grint look-alike by the name of Ed Sheeran.
Kicking off at 8pm, local serenader Georgi Kay greeted the mass of what felt like the entire female population of Perth with a set of subdued sweetness that will see the rising indie pop, WAM award-winning youth continue onward and upward in the industry.
Barely an hour later, Sheeran modestly took to the stage with a smile and a wave on his lonesome to be audibly greeted by fans. Sheeran is a very clever one man act. His performance was quirky, upbeat and surprisingly intimate. The man has a gift for building stillness and a sense of tension with his music and yet, a moment later, can have the entire theatre on their feet, participating in every verse, chorus and resounding repetitions of ‘I LOVE YOU ED. ARE YOU SINGLE?’
Steadily making his way through his set, Sheeran started with the sweet ‘Give Me Love’, converting the audience into his own gospel choir as he encouraged all to join him and ‘sing, sing anyway you can, mumble, whatever!’ The current radio-loved single ‘Drunk’ followed, with ‘Homeless’ shortly after, the crowd interaction continuing consistently even to this point.
The beauty of Sheeran’s set was its familiarity. In between songs, he encouraged the audience to interact any way they could – vocally at least. His banter was refreshing, as he linked every song to an element of his life, from stories of festivals to discovered love inspired by his family. He described how he made the music, tapping the guitar, looping his own voice to create the layers within his songs that gives them a soulful edge, demonstrating how he was a one man band. You weren’t an audience member, you were a friend.
His version of ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ was something truly special. Received in silence and without any instrumental accompaniment, Sheeran purely sang. From the moment he sang without his microphone, directly into the heart of the theatre, the audience was in the palm of his hands.
From the serenity of ‘Small Bump’, to the secret love found in ‘Kiss Me’, the light-hearted ‘Lego House’ to the impressive encore marathon that was ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ and of course, ‘The A Team’, Sheeran created a continual rise and fall element to his set. It remained compelling from start to finish.
Sheeran’s lyrics are direct. You know exactly what he is saying and that it is based on a personal experience. To some point, this removes the ability of his lyrics to be adapted, to enable a listener to form their own meaning, their own story, but on another level, who cares? It’s cute, it’s fun to sing along to and people do connect to the soul of the song. This is the kind of music that teenagers should be listening to over any fringed, ‘fever’ inducing individuals.
It’s kitsch, but it’s fantastically kitsch.
The very essence of Sheeran is his ability to appeal to the young teen in all of us, particularly the screaming female teen that refuses to be calmed. He is well worthy of seeing once again in February when he returns to Australia.
-Amy McKie. photography by Matthew Picken.