60,000 New Jerseyans were wooed
Taking a look back at the biggest tours of the year, the first thought that comes to mind for many of them are characterized by fireworks coupled with stunts galore. Some had performances midair, or a slew of B-list opening acts to accompany their A-list queen or king. Nevertheless, when it comes to Ed Sheeran and The ÷ Tour (pronounced The Divide Tour), all of the glamour and tinsel are completely stripped away to make room for the artist and his guitar.
After a year of arena dates in support of its album of the same title, Divide graduated to the world’s biggest venues in 2018. It is set to wrap August 2019 for a total of 233 unprecedented performances.
He performed to a stadium of 60,000 New Jerseyans at MetLife Stadium for two back-to-back nights. And when the cameras pan to Ed Sheeran making his way through the audience and up to center stage, a stadium of fans unanimously cheer as the boy with his guitar opens the show with “Castle on the Hill.”
Before performing his debut single, “The A Team,” which he wrote when he was 18 doing pubs, Ed Sheeran took a moment to reflect on how much performing at the Garden State venue meant to him. “These two shows are the biggest shows I ever played in the New York — New Jersey area,” he said. “My first gig in this area was the Mercury Lounge in 2012. I came over here and the first thing the record company said to me was ‘If I could make it here, I could make it anywhere.’ It is a difficult thing coming in as an Englishman to a country where you have so much good music. Now to be here in front of s60-something, thousand, people for two nights is really cool.”
Despite performing at a massive football stadium, Ed Sheeran skillfully manages to make each evening an intimate experience, opening up to the audience about his personal experiences as well as playfully interacting with attendees. Sheeran jokingly notes it is always easy to spot the fans from their supportive boyfriends and super dads, even going so far as to dedicate one of his performances to those merely showing face to support their beloved Ed Sheeran super fan, “I will play at least one song that you won’t completely hate.”
With a setlist full of hits, the entire evening is a standout, with the stronger performances consisting of “Don’t / New Man,” “Photograph” and “Perfect.” The Grammy-winning “Thinking Out Loud” is by far the highlight of the evening. You could hear concertgoers singing along in unison during one of the most beautiful moments of the evening. Gay and straight, young and old; whether single or committed, you feel the love in this moment.
After a stellar performance of “Sing,” Ed Sheeran leaves fans yearning for more, and seems to enjoy tricking some into thinking the show is over. And just as fans begin to exit — the stadium lights back up again. For his encore, Sheeran performs an anathematic “Shape of You” and closes out with “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.”
One man, one guitar, one stage. Ed Sheeran’s uncanny ability to carry an entire stadium show all on his own accord is more than impressive. He is at his highest professionally, and moreover, as an artist, including much more elaborate arrangements in each of his performances. The ÷ Tour is praiseworthy, given his elite status, in that Ed Sheeran still opts to go on as a one-man-show.
Additional photos and video are available at: YouTube.com/WillLoveInc
Watch Ed Sheeran open up The ÷ Tour with “Castle on the Hill:” youtube.com/watch?v=QCCMF4ww24I