Besides a giant multi-screen for a backdrop, there was only Ed Sheeran and his guitar on the stage of the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds on Sunday night. Nonetheless, a mammoth crowd went wild for the 27-year-old British singer’s pop/folk pop ballads—with a few upbeat ditties laced in between his acoustic set list—proving doubters that the man’s sheer musical genius would see him through the huge outdoor venue. One ideally meant for dance parties, multi-act festivals and pyro-infused productions.
The magic of it all was plain to see and appreciate even for The T-Zone’s nine-year-old son who excitedly came with to the highly anticipated return of the Grammy Award-winning singer to Manila.
“Mom, I really liked Ed Sheeran’s show tonight,” he said, even as his legs were wobbling from standing atop his chair, his arms around my neck for safety, to see one of his first few music heroes in the flesh on stage.
“You know my first ‘big boy’ concert?” he continued, referring to a pop female superstar’s huge production at the Philippine Arena a couple of years ago. “It had way too many things going on,” he innocently recalled of the fantastic stage production and effects.
Indeed, the thousands who watched the former choirboy from Halifax, England, really felt one with his music that night—from opening the show with the nostalgia-driven hit that is “Castle on the Hill” all the way to bringing the house down with the worldwide summer anthem of 2017, “Shape of You.” Save for a few heartfelt spiels for his Filipino fans, Sheeran sang one song after another for a full hour and a half, his only breaks comprised of sipping water and guitar changes.
“Manila!” he greeted the MoA crowd. “I’m so excited to be back in the Philippines, thank you so much for being patient! Obviously this show was meant to happen in November, but I broke both my arms and I’m very thrilled to be back here today,” he explained, referring to the bicycle accident that forced him to postpone his world tour in the last quarter of 2017.
“I’d like to just explain how I play live. This thing at my feet is called the loop station—everything you hear tonight is completely live and it comes from this guitar and this microphone—I control it with my feet and it all gets deleted afterwards.”
I.e. sheer music.
Sheeran then sang most of his newer singles during the first half of the show like “Eraser,” “New Man,” “Dive,” and “Galway Girl,” saving his biggest global hits namely, “Perfect,” “Thinking Out Loud” and “Shape of You” for the end.
One of global music’s most charming and humble superstars today, Sheeran also expressed his thanks to his Filipino fans, first for giving him his “most favorite concert of all time” back in March 2015 at the MoA Arena, and for being the only other nation in the world besides his native England to make his third and latest album “” [pronounced "Divide”]eight-times platinum in sales.
“That means you love me as much as they [h[his countrymen]ve me,” he acknowledged, touched and overwhelmed by the Philippines’ support.
“So thank you Manila,” the singer-songwriter added with that trademark sincerity you hear in every one of his amazing songs.
“Now, let’s make sure we all end this evening without our voices, so sing with me as loud as you can.”
And the mammoth crowd at the MoA Concert Grounds did—with every word of his every song.
“Ed Sheeran Live in Manila” eventually ended shortly before 11 p.m. just as it started—the British superstar on his own, on stage, this time taking a selfie with some of his most special fans in the world to bring home with him.
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The Philippine leg of Ed Sheeran’s “Divide Tour” was presented by Smart Music Live and produced by AEG Presents and Ovation Productions.