Ed Sheeran – iTunes Festival – 2 September 2012

I still can’t believe how good it was.

The evening started early as we had a bit of travel to do. Getting to London is easy, but doing it with the minimum of cost is not usually reasonable. So we split the difference – me and my guest parked in an outside of London train station, then got the train into town, and the Underground the rest of the way.

We arrived about 6:30pm, and the queue was already pretty long. Still – we didn’t have to wait long and we were inside the Camden Roundhouse. An impressive venue, and very intimate. I’d never been there before… and, to be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever been to a ticketed venue where it was “standing room only”. Amazingly, I’m so glad it was. Not like me at all.

So we got in with plenty of time to spare before the 9pm kick off. The two support acts, Rudimental and Charli XTC were better than expected, especially the latter, who had a real 80s vibe to them. And, I made sure I wasn’t too well hydrated. After all, going for the toilet is a fatal move in amongst a crowd. You can get out, but you can’t get back in…

I was pretty fortunate. I was standing about four rows from the front, and within five minutes of Ed Sheeran starting, a couple of people ahead inexplicably disappeared, and I was in the gap quicker than a rat up a drainpipe. Second “row”. A definite win.

The concert itself was just outstanding. I knew Ed Sheeran’s master trick was the loop pedal, but I didn’t realise how well you could put together a one-man band with one. There are no ends to his talents. Iwas a bit surprised at how outgoing he was, as well. I always thought he’d be quite shy, but there was none of that. He was full of energy, bouncing around, and orchestrating us – the “gospel choir” as he said.

I have to admit to a bit of star-struckness, too. When Ed first emerged, going straight into the sublime Give Me Love – I was so excited I was shaking. I never thought I’d be like that… it soon went, as he made everyone feel so comfortable. You do get the impression you could have a drink with him very easily.

My favourite bit, I think, was when Ed did a cover of Chasing Cars, by Snow Patrol, which is maybe one of my favourite songs of all time. I was pretty chuffed when I worked out what the song was before virtually everyone around me (I’m a musical know-it-all at times, so I have to meet my own high standards!)… and I just had a feeling we were going to get a guest appearance at that point, having been promised one all night. And yes, there it was, Gary Lightbody came out of the darkness to do a duet. It was just brilliant.

The show ended with a more than 10 minute monster mashup rap with a few other guests using the song You Need Me, I Don’t Need You as a starting block. I have to admit it was extraordinarily well done, from a technical perspective, but my tolerance for proper rap like that is not huge. It did generate a massive level of appreciation from the crowd, but I think it went on just a bit too long. My only criticism of the performance. I always prefer singing to rap… cos then I can join in! Rap is more of a “stand in awe” thing…

Talking of joining in, maybe the only other disappointment was that the people standing around me didn’t seem all that interested in participating. I was singing the most of everyone nearby, I’m sure. But other pockets of the crowd were really getting into it. Just not standing in the right place, that was all. I still enjoyed myself!

In the end, all good things had to come to an end… and we made our way back. I hung around for 5 minutes afterwards in the vain hope that he’d come back out for a meet and greet – as he has done on a number of other occasions – but no such luck. Still, I couldn’t have asked for much more after winning free tickets and ending up right at the front. Simply amazing.

In summary: bloody brilliant. I’ve spent all of today going over his tunes now stuck (again) in my head, and watched some of the video I filmed on my phone. It’s pretty crap quality (and is ruined in parts by how crap my own singing has become!) but it’s a good memory I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Thanks, Ed, for a very enjoyable evening. I’ll be looking to buy some tickets on the next tourt, whenever that may be. I missed out for this tour by 10 minutes…

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