Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2015
Pic by Court McAllister.
Despite being a little too Australian Idol to bridge a true connection with the early comers, Australia’s own Conrad Sewell‘s soaring vocals were more than enough to calm the anxious punters as they shuffled to their seats. He’s choice to just sing while having a pianist provide backing music left something to be desired. Such an intimate setup needed more feeling behind it – something that might have been conveyed had Sewell been playing keys himself.
Setting a more appropriate tone for the evening with It’s Cold In Ohio, UK singer-songwriter Jamie Lawson managed to make that connection to the “pretty big” room almost instantly, turning the crowd into his percussion section for Don’t Worry, and winning over the entire room with the heartfelt Still Yours. It was clear why he was the first artist signed to Ed Sheeran’s label, Gingerbread.
The voice that demanded two shows at Perth Arena had a lot to live up to, with no backing band, Ed Sheeran, equipped nothing more than his custom acoustic and some pedals, stormed the stage.
Once the shellshock from the crowd’s collective screaming had subsided, I’m A Mess took on a life of its own, with Sheeran looping guitar parts, percussive hits and vocals to construct his version of a band.
“The goal of this gig is that we all lose our voices,” Sheeran announced, and Lego House was a nice way to get that started.
Once again, he stamped his loop pedal, started a beat and got a guitar riff on repeat, then grabbed his guitar and danced around the stage to Sing.
With a smooth and diverse voice and admirable guitar playing, rap-eqsue elements came across as tacky and fell short, and the amount of looping required for Sheeran to run around without his guitar was questionable; he was a few vocal loops away from being able to walk off stage and have the songs finish themselves. That’s not to say he should only stick to teenage folk anthems, as two hour sets need diversity, rather Sheeran could have used other means to create that variety.
Ballad Photograph found a healthy balance between performance and looping, Bloodstream and I See Fire saw synchronised crowd moves and Sheeran trashing his guitar so hard he tore a string off it, and stripped-back numbers like Tenerife Sea were a breath of fresh air that the set could have done with more of. But ultimately, it was hits Thinking Out Loud (feat electric guitar) and the simple yet effective The A Team that really brought it home.
With only an acoustic guitar, some pedals and his voice to entertain for two hours, there’s no denying Ed Sheeran is not only a talented writer, but up there with some of the best performers.