“Hello Hong Kong, how you feeling? This is the first time I’ve ever played at Disneyland!” exclaimed Ed Sheeran, as he overlooked the exhilarated crowd of fans who were waiting with bated breath for him to appear on stage at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Sheeran was forced to cancel his 2017 Hong Kong tour because he’d injured both of his arms in a cycling accident. But he’s come back stronger than ever: he played the first of his two Hong Kong gigs last night at Disneyland Hong Kong, on Lantau, opening with Castle on the Hill, one of his many hits from his latest album Divide.
For most Hong Kong audience members, this was their first time watching a concert live at Disneyland. Once Sheeran began his singing, rapping and impressive guitar strumming, though, it was clear how fitting the magical atmosphere of Disneyland was.
Notable numbers included Shape of You, Perfect, Thinking Out Loud and Photograph, which all elicited loud cheers and singalongs from the crowd. Sheeran, known for his originality, elevated the show further with a live loop station, allowing him to lap song lyrics on top of one another, and harmonise over the tune, for a fresh, almost transcendent experience.
Another thing that made Sheeran’s concert so enjoyable was his light sense of humour. “Ninety-eight per cent of the crowd are always singing, always dancing,” he said. “But the remaining 2 per cent of the crowd are either the boyfriend who doesn’t really want to be here, or the superdads.”
The A Team, was a definite crowd-pleaser; it highlights Sheeran’s ability to tell stories through other people’s voices. As he played the popular song, the crowd listened intently to the strummed guitar, and the lyrics that tell the story of an addict. The moving song is a display of his signature style: gentle, heartfelt but upbeat songs. The two seemingly contradicting genres intertwine in a lot in Sheeran’s work.
In Bloodstream, also from Divide - which was awarded 2018 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album - the control he had over the crowd was almost hypnotic. As the bass augmented, so did the crowd’s cheers, and when he hit the chorus, he not only had his loop station playing lyrics over his voice as he sang, but the crowd chanting and dancing to every word.
Sheeran abruptly left the stage after performing Sing from his album X, seemingly leaving out his best performing song of 2017, the danceable Shape of You. However, just as the crowd started calling out for an encore, he appeared again, playing that hit, as the crowd erupted, and following it with You Need Me, I Don't Need You.
Sheeran’s ability to write songs that capture people’s deepest thoughts shines through his music, and this is what makes him stand out from other artists. He creates a perfect mix of passion and liveliness in his work that gets audiences worldwide dancing and clapping, whether on a record or live, as last night. His uniqueness and personality is why he’s one of the most beloved singer-songwriters of today.