Ed Sheeran + – = ÷ x Tour (The Mathematics Tour) ★★★★★
Melbourne Cricket Ground, March 3
It looked like a spaceship had landed. In the centre of the MCG stood a podium encircled by screens. Symbols flickered across, a countdown started, and when the screen lifted, there was the man Melbourne had been waiting for.
Ed Sheeran performs to a sold-out crowd at the MCG on Thursday March 2.Credit:Rick Clifford
Ed Sheeran opened his Thursday night show with his track Tides followed by an explosive rendition of BLOW, a track co-written with Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton, as flames erupted from the stage.
The Friday night Melbourne show of Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour has broken records for the most number of tickets sold for an Australian concert at 107,000 attendees. It’s also the biggest crowd to be housed in the MCG.
Flames and fireworks added to the spectacle as light-up firecracker style bolts and giant screens shaped like guitar picks surrounded the extended open stage, displaying the singer’s face to the crowds in the nosebleed section.
“I was wishing, hoping and praying Australia would like me,” Ed Sheeran told the sold-out MCG crowd.Credit:Rick Clifford
Sheeran moved across the stage, recording loops on his custom-built station, affectionately named Chewie II. For new audiences, Sheeran explained how every sound heard on the night was recorded live as he added instrumental and harmonic layers to his tracks.
Melbourne holds a special place in Sheeran’s heart, being home to two close friends who have recently passed: mentor and Mushroom Records co-founder Michael Gudinski (who encouraged him to play at the MCG) and cricketing legend Shane Warne. He dedicated Visiting Hours to Gudinski and The A Team to Warne.
Avid Saints fans, Warne and Gudinski were instrumental in introducing Sheeran to St Kilda Football Club, where he performed a surprise pop-up concert to players at Morrabbin Oval on Tuesday this week. He also wore the ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ tee from First Nation owned Brunswick-based store Clothing the Gap.
Later Sheeran brought the crowd into the music, launching into a sing-a-long section featuring Grammy-award winning track Thinking Out Loud. He spoke to the stadium as a collective, encouraging the crowd to clap their hands as percussive accompaniment, conducting vocal harmonies with opposing sides and encouraging us all to put our phone torches on for Perfect. Other highlights included a medley of his collaborations, featuring Own It, Beautiful People, Peru and I Don’t Care, and a rendition of Galway Girl accompanied by a violinist.
Sheeran commented that he was encouraged to appeal to the Australian market due to shared music tastes with the UK.
“I was wishing, hoping and praying Australia would like me,” said Sheeran.
“This is really what dreams are made of – this is amazing.”
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