Review: Ed Sheeran, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Ed Sheeran, who is currently touring his new album Divide. Picture: PA.
Ed Sheeran, who is currently touring his new album Divide. Picture: PA.

A sold-out date at a venue with a capacity of several thousand is somewhat different to the last time I saw Ed Sheeran.

It was five years ago, in a tent at a Scottish festival. It was stotting rain and there was a queue outside the tent’s opening as punters hoped to catch a glimpse.

Somehow, the singer and songwriter made tonight’s arena show feel just as intimate as that moment in 2012.

Since the release of Sheeran’s third album ÷ last month, it has been near impossible to escape the songs which have broken records across the board.

First single, Shape of You, spent the 13 weeks at No. 1 in the UK chart - and tonight’s gig was a sure sign that Sheeran’s music speaks to the ages.

Kids with their parents, couples on date night, groups of friends; they were all packed in at the Metro Radio Arena to see him perform.

And, as we all probably expected, he knocked it out of the park.

The set opened with new track Castle On The Hill - a song which I feel shows Sheeran at his best.

It’s loud, anthemic and (most importantly) honest.

It’s about his life, his friends, his experiences of growing up in Suffolk. And it delivers a message that we’ve surely all felt at one time.

No matter where we go or what we do, we’ll always feel a certain affinity towards our home town, and the people in it.

After a few songs, Sheeran confided in us that he was really enjoying himself after suffering with “man flu” during some of the previous dates. He added that he was happy to return to Newcastle for the first time since 2011 - because the further up North you go, the more mental the crowd gets.

It’s true.

Eraser, New Man, Happier and Perfect, all from ÷, also formed part of the setlist - and judging by the way the fans were screaming along with the lyrics, they stand to become just as popular as some of Sheeran’s most defining songs to date.

The A Team, Thinking Out Loud and Sing were some of the evening’s highlights (and let’s face it, no Ed Sheeran show would be complete without those staples).

My song of the night goes to one I didn’t expect: Photograph. The performance was just something special album - an extended version of the album track - and as the sound faded out at the end, it was incredible to hear all of our voices in unison.

We were reassured by the man himself that it didn’t matter if they were in tune, (they weren’t) as long as they were loud (they were).

It’s easy to forget due to that volume in the room and the quality of the music that a Sheeran set is just one man with a stage, a guitar and a song.

The stage has gotten bigger, but he’s still the same man. The beaming smile on his face throughout his set as we all sang along told us that.

And accompanied by the thousands of us as backing singers, that’s all one of his performances needs to be.

If I had to make one criticism (and I promise, it’s the only one I have to make, really) it’s that some of my favourites from the back catalogue weren’t on the list tonight.

I would have loved to have heard Kiss Me, Give Me Love and One performed live because to me, they are the standout songs from his previous two albums + and x.

But that’s the beauty of Sheeran’s work.

One of his songs, from one of his three No. 1 albums, will really speak to you and hit a nerve. Even if you don’t expect it.

So - for speaking to all of us personally through your music - thank you, Ed.