Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ed Sheeran at Royal Albert Hall

Photo by Christie Goodwin, 2014.
Me and Liz waiting in line for the show!
A month or two back, Liz and I forked up some serious quid (pounds) and bought ourselves tickets to see the love of our lives, Ed Sheeran, at Royal Albert Hall on Monday, March 24th. Time flew by and between trips to other countries, schoolwork and planning for my south of France/Italy trip next month, I nearly forgot that the concert was coming up!

As soon as I woke up yesterday I was freaking out because the day had finally arrived. I spent the morning doing some chores, met with Megan for Chipotle around 2:30PM and then picked up some groceries on my way back to my building. Liz arrived around 3:30PM and after she put her stuff down in my room, we headed out to get to the venue a little early. Liz picked up some Subway and we hopped on the tube at Baker Street. We had to switch one time at Edgware Road but once we sat down on the second train we started talking about what we hoped he'd play at the show and almost missed our stop at South Kensington. We laughed it off and walked about ten minutes to Royal Albert Hall.

We approached the building and noticed a small queue (line) near one of the doors. We sat at the end of the line and waited for about an hour while listening to Ed Sheeran and watching the line grow behind us. It started to get a little darker and around 6:15PM or so the security guards told us to stand up and move closer to the door to make the line more compact. We ended up standing over a heated vent which was really nice. The doors opened around 6:45PM and the ticket collectors scanned and then kept our tickets as we passed through the entrance. I was a little disappointed because I love keeping my ticket stubs, but we got bright blue wristbands to replace them. After checking my coat, browsing the merch table and wandering around the bar area, Liz and I took our place near the stage, right in the center and about six messy rows of people back. I was really excited about how close we were!

At 7:40PM, Passenger came on to open the show. He was really fantastic and I was so happy when they announced that he was the supporting act because he fits really well with Ed Sheeran's style of music. They both have incredible voices and they're really good songwriters as well.
"Passenger (aka Michael David Rosenberg) is an English folk-rock singer-songwriter who's single, "Let Her Go," has topped the charts in many countries (Wikipedia)." 
Passenger was phenomenal!
I downloaded his album, "All the Little Lights," last semester and listened to it on all of my drives between Vermont and New York with Maggie, Lauren and Shawn. His songs are very slow and are mostly acoustic ballads and I really enjoy that kind of music. He actually made fun of himself during his set when he said, "You've probably noticed from my first two songs that this isn't going to be the happiest half hour of your life. I only have one hit single." He had the whole place laughing after that comment, and I was really impressed by how respectful the audience was towards him even though he wasn't really playing lively, dance music. I think that Ed Sheeran fans are the perfect crowd for Passenger because they appreciate the slow, acoustic ballads more than some people.

After Passenger's set there was a break and they brought the house lights up so that people could go to the bar or the bathroom. I stayed put and appreciated the architecture of the room. There were huge white, circular installments hanging from the ceiling and the balconies or "stalls" were all ornately decorated with red curtains and beautiful carvings.
"The Royal Albert Hall is a registered charity held in trust for the nation and receives no public or central and local government funding.has a capacity (depending on configuration of the event) of up to 5,272 seats; standing areas and stage specifications can change this. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from several performance genres have appeared on its stage and it has become one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings. Each year it hosts more than 350 events including classical concerts, rock and pop, ballet and opera, sports, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and banquets (Wikipedia)."
Around 9PM they had the host of the show come up on stage again and he talked about Teenage Cancer Trust, which was the main sponsor of the concert series happening that week.
"Teenage Cancer Trust is a charity that focuses on the needs of teenagers and young adults with cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin’s and related diseases by providing specialist teenage units in NHS hospitals. The units are dedicated areas for teenage and young adult patients, who are involved in their concept and creation. Medical facilities on the units are equipped with computers, TVs, game consoles – designed to be places where friends and family feel comfortable to visit. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of rock band The Who have been intimately involved with the annual charity concerts at Royal Albert Hall (Wikipedia)."
Ed Sheeran was their first concert in the line-up and they all raved about how he couldn't make it last year but was the only act who ever kept his word that he'd play a show next year. It was really nice to hear about the work that Teenage Cancer Trust does and we were shown a short film about it to give us a better idea of why it's so important to donate and help spread awareness of the organization. (I embedded the video so you can watch.)

One of the girls in the video, Amy, suffers from a horrible form of cancer (unfortunately I don't remember the name) and seeing the before and after pictures of her from just a few years ago to now were really heartbreaking. She can barely walk now so after the film ended and the lights went up, they brought her on stage in a wheelchair with a bunch of other teens who benefit from the organization and let me tell you, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. We gave them the biggest round of applause and cheered for them as they waved and marveled at the sold out audience in front of them. A few more people spoke, including Roger Daltrey from The Who and Noel Gallagher from Oasis, then they cleared the stage and announced Ed Sheeran.
Ed Sheeran is an English singer-songwriter who's debut album, "+" (2011), containing the singles "The A Team" and "Lego House," was certified quintuple platinum in the United Kingdom. In 2012, he won two BRIT Awards for Best British Male and British Breakthrough. Sheeran began to be known in the United States in 2012. He made a guest appearance on Taylor Swift's fourth album, Red, and wrote songs for One Direction. "The A Team" was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards and he performed the song in duet with Elton John during the ceremony. He spent much of 2013 touring North America as the opening act for Taylor Swift's Red Tour. His second album will be released in 2014. He was nominated for Best New Artist at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards (Wikipedia)."
Roger Daltrey and Amy on stage during the show. Photo by Christie Goodwin, 2014.
The hall got really dark and the screaming began as Ed made his way to the stage. Right away he began playing my favorite song, "Give Me Love," which I used in my Ireland video a few weeks back. It was a great opening song because it builds up to a really intense part towards the end and he was really giving it his all. He uses a looping mic that can record his harmonies and different guitar parts so that he can layer each song without having anyone else on stage with him. It is so amazing to see him do it and each song sounded so big and incredible with the acoustics in the hall.

He played almost all of my favorites and here's the complete setlist with some of my comments about a few of the songs...

Give Me Love- Amazing way to open, like I already said. His shadow was huge on the wall to my left and it was really cool to watch it for a while as he performed.

Grade 8

Wayfaring Stranger (by Jamie Woon)- He needed us to be really quiet for this song but a drunk girl kept screaming and I felt bad for her friend who was trying to restrain her. She ended up falling at one point and just remained on the ground. Ed was cute and told us all to cuddle anyone who tries to yell out when he needs it to be quiet for the looping mic to work. He said someone punched a person in the back of the head at one of his shows once so he didn't want us to take extreme measures like that if someone yells.

Small Bump- We needed to be really quiet for this one too. This is one of me and Liz's favorites.

Be My Husband (by Nina Simone)- This one was really fun and he had us sing back to him a lot. He kept jumping up on the speakers and interacting with the crowd which really got everyone excited.

Kiss Me- Ed mentioned that he had recently been in Afghanistan playing for the troops and that so many of them went up to him and told him that this was their wedding song. He wrote it for his aunt and uncle's wedding. He asked us not to sing along for that one. 

Hearts on Fire (with Passenger)- This was really nice because he prefaced the song with a little background on how he'd played with Passenger before they found fame and they used to busk the streets together. It's crazy to think that they started off playing in small pubs and busy roads in London.

Tenerife Sea (New)- This is a really pretty ballad off of his new album and I'm really excited to hear more!

I See Fire- You might recognize this song from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Ed joked about how it's about hobbits and dragons and asked us if it was relatable. He said he can relate to it because he's been called a hobbit his whole life. Aw!

The Parting Glass- This is an old Irish song that Ed suggested was a good one to say goodbye with. He told us that he'd play one more song, leave the stage to drink a lot of water and that if we cheered loud enough he'd come back and play a few more for us. I closed my eyes during this song and it was amazing to just focus on his voice in the quiet arena. It sounded like we were the only two people in the room.

Lego House- The multi-colored lights on the screens behind him looked like legos which Liz and I loved.


You Need Me, I Don’t Need You- He was amazing during this song! It's a lot of rapping and he mixed in a little of "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore too. I think that it was the perfect way to start the encore because we were all singing along and dancing. The whole hall was buzzing.

Take It Back (New)- I LOVED THIS SONG. I'm so excited to hear it on the new album and he wasn't going to play it for us initially. He was strumming his guitar and he said, "Ah f*** it, I'll play you a new one." It was more fast-paced than "Tenerife Sea" and he raps the verses. It was about how things have changed so much for him but he always comes back to his roots. He also kind of preaches how you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I loved it.

The A Team- I think that we all knew this would be the last song he sang last night. It was really great to hear him sing it live after hearing it countless times on the radio over the last few years. Everyone was singing along. He had us all turn our flashlights on our phones on and we lit up the whole arena. It was really beautiful!
Photo by Christie Goodwin, 2014.
Well, there you have it. Ed Sheeran was amazing. I am completely in love with his ginger hair, his quirky tattoos, his soulful voice, his tiny guitar, his down-to-earth personality and his incredible ability to perform in front of sold out audiences all over the world. He commands the stage without the help of a back up band and he is so magnificently talented. I would definitely recommend seeing him live to anyone who has the chance and if you haven't listened to his music, DO IT. His new album should be out sometime this year and he said that last night might be the last time he plays all of those songs for a long time. It was his first show at Royal Albert Hall and he said that his parents came to see him. The last time he was there was a few years ago to see Eric Clapton with his dad. Now look at him! I'm so happy for him and I hope that I get to see him again soon. It was a huge blessing to be able to see him perform there. I'll never ever forget it!

I'm still exhausted and feeling a little run down so I should probably get some sleep. I hope that I feel better soon because I have a lot of work coming up and I'm seeing a live taping of "Sweat the Small Stuff" hosted by BBC Radio 1 DJ, Nick Grimshaw on Friday. I'm really excited for that!

I hope that everyone is having a great start to their week!

Write soon,
xx Sheila

Here's one of my favorite Ed Sheeran songs, "Give Me Love."

Review of last night: "From the moment he kicked into top-20 single Give Me Love, Sheeran dispelled any notion that he is merely a soppy acoustic balladeer. Dressed in scruffy black skater clothes, his ginger hair ruffled just so and a baby acoustic guitar strapped on, Sheeran transformed this formerly forgettable strummer into whirling arena pop-rock. Using loop pedals, he layered triple harmonies, Flamenco guitar twang and beatboxed drums on top of his soulful croon with military precision... The 90-minute set continued in this breathless fashion, with grime rapping, a cappella singing, one-handed guitar riffing and hip-hop beats thrown in. Sheeran was a livewire throughout, twiddling his effects pedals manically, or encouraging more participation from his eager audience (James Lachno, The Telegraph)."

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