Published on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2018
After being in his presence for only a few minutes, it’s almost hard to believe the easy-going redhead addressing the Australian media at Perth’s Optus Stadium will fill the space twice over on the weekend, but that down-to-Earth attitude is part of what makes Ed Sheeran so appealing and what’s contributed to his success.
He grins and sways back and forth as a list of his achievements to-date are read aloud, including news the Aus and NZ leg of the ÷ World Tour had just cracked one million ticket sales, beating the previous Australian record held by Dire Straits.
Frontier boss Michael Gudinski then joins Sheeran onstage and it isn’t long before it’s game time. “I made an effort,” Gudinski says of his outfit. “What are those shoes?!” Sheeran responds.
They reminisce about their friendship and working relationship and then an epic ice sculpture is unveiled, commemorating the sales achievement of the current tour. “I’ll always be like more, more, more and [Gudinski] always knows when to stop,” Sheeran says.
This weekend’s sold-out performances at Optus Stadium will be the venue’s first, so it’s a fitting first question. “How risky is this for you?” someone asks, allowing Sheeran to demonstrate his quick wit again. He looks around for a little and then says, “Err, it seems pretty stable.”
The local theme continues and after he reveals his favourite place to eat in Perth (“some fish and chip shop”), it’s onto tattoos. He’s been inked in WA in the past, getting a Koala tattoo in the state during another tour and while there are no plans of any Aussie additions in the near-future, he says he’d probably get some “Brisvegas” art.
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“Michael’s played me Bliss N Eso – I quite like them,” Sheeran tells The Music when quizzed about local acts. The trio will open for him during his four massive Melbourne shows. He’s then grilled by another reporter about his “crush” on Missy Higgins, who is opening for him on the tour. “I mean, that was like 12 years ago,” he laughs. “I got Missy’s album when I was here when I was 14 and rinsed it, and I still listen to it. It’s a bit awkward, everyone keeps telling her I have a crush on her.”
He didn’t think he’d ever meet Higgins, let alone be touring with her, but he’s come a long way from playing intimate venues all those years ago. He still places a strong focus on keeping that intimate vibe alive, though. “There was a musician I toured with ages ago, and I was always talking about getting a band and he said you don’t need to get a band because all your fans want to sing along with you.
“That’s always resonated with me stepping out on stage. All people want is to be entertained, they don’t want to hear a song in the way that you want to do it or hear a new song, they just want to be entertained with the songs that they know.”
So, would he ever consider getting a band? “I wouldn’t mind getting a band, but I would only get a band if the show would be better than the show I have now…I’ve been thinking about it and I think doing a show half band, half pedal might be quite interesting.
“The only problem is, most of the touring bands now that play stadiums have been playing in that band for a long time – just like I’ve been playing on my own – and they’ve got it locked in and practiced, so I would have to tour with a band at a low level before coming back and doing this sort of thing.”
Even the media can’t refrain from being sucked up by Sheeran-mania with numerous reporters rushing to grab selfies as he’s ushered off while another requests a birthday message for a friend – and he does it all without hesitation.
Ed Sheeran’s Australian tour kicks off tonight in Perth. Check out theGuide for all the details.