Wait, this isn’t Sean…
Hi guys, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Darragh Cashman and I am Sean’s friend, the same Darragh that accompanied him to Stephanie Rainey at Cyprus Avenue (which you can find here). Credit to Sean he has given me new opportunities, since I got to know him only a year ago through our mutual friend John, to explore new musical talent and to meet great people along the way. Just to add I am a first time writer of a blog, so any criticisms please take it easy! Also on that note if you find my piece entertaining, please do note this to Sean for me as feedback, it would be greatly appreciated!
I wonder how the hell he does it going around to the various gigs he gets to go to, and then I remember I’m basically after following his pattern after Music Cork. I am here to write about the Ed Sheeran concerts that took place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh from the 4th to the 6th of May. I was fortunate enough to have one ticket for myself on the Friday night and Sean jokingly approached me about doing a blog when I got the time after, to which we had a good laugh and I said I’d consider it. The Saturday morning I got a phone call asking would I be interested in going a second night with a family friend, once I accepted and told Sean the news, the text simply read ‘oh by god you’re doing a blog post now, no excuses!’ as I read in his sarcastic tone as if he was there standing next to me. So yes, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to see Ed Sheeran twice, I thought I was lucky to see him once but twice in two nights is crazy! This is my version of events..
Getting to the concerts themselves wasn’t too much hassle, allowing for traffic of course. Both nights we decided to park in Cork Constitution FC grounds. While it was €10 to park each night, the fact we were so close to the stadium made it worth it. The facilities were fantastic and there was food and drink in place on the evening, so everyone was able to fully enjoy themselves, no matter how old you were! From here each night is different, the very first night I was standing, albeit on my own, but I knew I would find someone I knew be it from home or from college on the night to tag along with. For a while I was channeling my inner Sean (I know I know shots fired.. sorry not sorry..) and went in it alone, not knowing anyone. Eventually I found people I was friendly with from college and we all had a great time. Standing isn’t the easiest thing for me given the fact I am only 5’6/5’7 but I was adamant to get as good a view I could get. Saying that though, being this small has its perks, such as sliding through people to get close to the barrier.
The perch of the Merch..
One thing I definitely noticed is that the merchandise (or anything for that matter) wasn’t exactly the cheapest. However given such a concert, one must Dive into their bank account and say Ciao Adios to their money (see Sean I can do puns too!) for a bit of Ed Sheeran merchandise. The obvious go to’s are t-shirts, the first night I bought the limited edition Cork Páirc Uí Chaoimh t-shirt and on the second night I bought a t-shirt of Ed jumping in the air and a wrist band. Now I won’t lie, the merch was a little bit steep in terms of prices but some of the designs of the t-shirts were fantastic and there was so many options to choose from, it was hard to resist really.
So who’s the support
The line up for the tour in terms of the support for Ed Sheeran was of a tall standard. On this line up going across Europe you have Beoga, Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie. Beoga are more known for their traditional Irish music and even accompanied Ed in the production of Galway Girl and Nancy Mulligan, more on that later though. Unfortunately I was too late getting to the stadium both nights that I missed Beoga, yes Sean I know that’s your pet peeve about people for concerts leave me alone! However from all accounts, especially those of my friend who were in attendance to their Cyprus Avenue gig the Thursday night, they were supposed to be amazing and seeing on social media they live up to said reviews.
Then there was Jamie Lawson, I personally never listened to much of Jamie before, so I was intrigued to see what he was like. He played a number of songs from different albums including his latest album Happy Accidents. One song that stood out to me from him was The Only Conclusion, he explained how he came to write this song when he finished watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory as Sheldon Cooper came to terms with the feelings of love he had for Amy. I found the meaning of the song and the lyrics quite interesting and it made for a great song. He then finished on the song he would be more renowned for in Wasn’t Expecting That. A great set overall.
Then came Anne Marie, who became more renowned for her song Rockabye with Clean Bandit and Sean Paul. I was very excited to see her as I wanted to see how she would be live, and she lived up to the expectations. Starting with Ciao Adios was an interesting one as I thought it would make more sense to end her set with that song but not going to complain as she got the crowd pumping. Interesting that she switches around songs on her set list as she followed with Heavy on night one and Do It Right on Night two. She got great involvement from the crowd as she got us to join in at any point possible, including for her song Trigger, the song itself was catchy and she worked the crowd really well by getting the crowd to sing at the chorus. Other songs across her setlist included a popular choice of Alarm, her latest single 2002 which she had written with Ed Sheeran himself and my personal favourite of the songs that I hadn’t heard before the concert in Breathing Fire, the song is such an easy going song and has a catchy interlude where she got the crowd to join in with the nah nah nah’s. She finished a fantastic set on her song FRIENDS, everyone was singing it across the stadium and with the end of her night, the crowd was good and ready for Ed.
And so, the man himself
The man of the hour was upon us, you could feel the electricity in the air as we anticipated the Ginger Nut himself that was Ed Sheeran. My only concern going into the concert on night one was the fact I hadn’t seen him live before and I didn’t know if it was worth the price I was paying for the ticket, given it was only him and his guitar on stage. Oh how I could be ever more wrong as my fears were put to bed in 5 minutes as all I have to say is HOLY f**K WAS I WRONG!! Starting with Castle on the Hill he had everyone on their feet across the stadium and singing at the top of their lungs and wasn’t on the stage 3 minutes. It was such a crazy atmosphere, literally having us hang on every lyric and it was amazing the way he controlled the crowd from the moment he was on the stage it was crazy.
After the crowd had calmed down, long night ahead for my throat, Ed went on to explain how his concert is run. He explains that he has a loop pedal at his feet, it becomes noticeable throughout the night how well he is trained at using it. He would begin the start of every song by strumming the tune of each song into the loop pedal and throughout the song he would play a beat off his guitar and it would be played into the loop station, very well thought out for one man and his guitar on stage. He goes on to explain he starts afresh each night, nothing is the same night after night (hmm is it really though Ed, considering you did the same shtick each night?!) and that it would be deleted after each concert, coincidentally leading into Eraser, a song with a good vibe to it.
Next on the set list was a favourite to everyone and a popular choice for karaoke from what I’ve seen is the track that shot Ed to fame in the first place, the A Team. Just staying quiet myself and listening to everyone in synchronisation was chilling. My only negative point about The A Team, was how early in the setlist it was put, this was due to the fact that it was still bright both nights when it was played and while people still took out their phones and put the flash on, it just didn’t feel right. Things picked up again when he broke into another classic in Don’t. As previously mentioned it was going to be a long night on my throat as it was full of screaming, whooping and singing. This song was no exception, and was expertly mixed with a rendition of the song from the latest album Divide, New Man. The lyrics and song title make it clear, this is about a woman who is still clearly hung up on her ex that she goes on and on.. and on about her latest beau and how great he is, despite constantly trying to get in contact with her ex to meet up. When the music stops, and the crowd calm down after yet another standing ovation, Ed interacts with the crowd, talking about how people look in a crowd at a concert, hilariously making a blank stare into the crowd
He also went on to say that 98% of the crowd are always screaming and singing at the top of their lungs. Going on to point out that the 2% of the audience were the boyfriends that didn’t want to be there, getting them into trouble of course! The other part of the audience were who Ed called the ‘superdads’ of the world, who wanted their sons and daughters to have a good time. On a final note Ed did say he wanted his concerts to be judgement free as people would feel they would be judged if they started jumping around, so asked for everyone to sing out of tune as loud as they can and jump around as much as they cared to. He then went on to play Dive which I found to be played very well live compared to the album version and hearing everyone echo back the lyrics was amazing, a theme that would be set throughout the night.
From here Ed would play Bloodstream, again involving the crowd he would ask everyone to wave their hand in an up and down motion when the beat kicked in after each chorus. At the end of the song occurred the first of a few drawn out endings of some songs, with the assistance of course of the trusty loop pedal. Don’t get me wrong, each song was very well drawn out and never felt as if it was being dragged out for an eternity. Next song up was the current single by Ed called Happier, written about a previous flame of his where he describes how happy she actually is with her new partner, unlike the girl of the song New Man might I add.
When people think of Ed Sheeran, they remember him for his emotionally driven songs such as Perfect and so on. Here comes the emotional part of the set list then, the first of these songs would be the smash hit that was Thinking Out Loud, a song that never gets old in my eyes, with just a few light strums of his guitar and uttering the lyrics ‘when your legs don’t work like they used to before’, everyone was drawn in. This song was played a lot later in the setlist on night two, however I am working the setlist off of night one.
Now I’m not going to fool everyone in to thinking I’m the die hard Ed head because the next few songs I was not familiar with that I had to recheck after the concert to make sure I had the right name of the song.. yes I know I’m an amateur leave me be!! The next song on the list was I’m A Mess, followed by Tenerife Sea, after not recognizing these songs I found them to be good songs, good beats and good vibes to them. Just to note, credit must be given to the visual backdrop for each song especially for the songs Tenerife Sea and I See Fire, the next song on this list, very eye catching as darkness set in over Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Such images in the background setting included a multi coloured lion changing colours as the image was displayed, amazing display across the night so credit where its due to the production crew too. Ed went on to begin with the famous Feeling Good song whilst drifting in to I See Fire, a nice slow tempo song that, not for the first time of the night, got the lights off everyone, including my own phone flashing and waved about slowly. Finally of the list that I wouldn’t be aware of fully would be One, I recognized the song but never knew its name.
Sticking to the emotional theme we come to the next song that was Photograph, another song I’d always listen to when it comes on the playlist, just hearing 40,000 people sing every song word for word is something that gives me goosebumps, hearing it in practically every song is amazing. Another song that got the extended version and it was brilliantly drawn out. As previously mentioned, production for the theatrics of the stage were well done, streaming down photos of Ed’s past. The final song of an emotional theme was the second most recent song released by Ed in Perfect, seeing the jaw dropping sight of the lights of everyone’s phones on the second night from a seated view was a beautiful sight to behold, also on the second night, a couple numerous rows above me got engaged, I was unaware of it until I heard the cheering and whooping amongst the crowd above me half way through the song. To put it quite simply, the song was Perfect.
The night took a great turn when after Perfect, Ed took time to note the tremendous support acts of Beoga, Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie, and asked the crowd if they would want Beoga on stage one more time, to a resounding yes of course. We all knew what was coming next, Galway Girl and Nancy Mulligan much to my delight!! Interestingly to give an extra Irish feel to his rendition of Galway Girl, he starts the song with a quick chorus of the original song made more recognisable by Mundy and Sharon Shannon. At this point, everyone in the Páirc were on their feet as Nancy Mulligan came to be, and I honestly thought I would lose my voice as I gave it everything. Nancy Mulligan is by far and away my favourite Ed Sheeran song, just the catchiness of the song and how infectious it really is, it’s a toe tapper and the backing music provided by Beoga is truly amazing. After Beoga exited the stage once again, it came to Sing, where Ed demanded everyone started jumping around, secretly I was saying to myself ‘ahm Ed, my legs are kinda banjaxed from standing here all night, might not be able to jump!!’ Nevertheless I, along with the 40,000 in attendance gave it absolutely everything.
As most concerts go these days, from here he exited stage left to the chorus of ‘one more tune’ and ‘we want more’. By god did we get more! To our approval he returned gracing a Cork GAA jersey! On the second night came out wearing the Republic of Ireland jersey, either way we were going to approve. He came back doing two classics, the first release off the Divide album Shape Of You, the beat is so infectious and as always the lyrics being sung back to Ed is just amazing. The final song of the night was a song I wouldn’t have heard as often but was always a good song to listen to, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You from his first album +. It relates to the path that Ed has faced to get to where he is today and it is the perfect song to end the night on, and that’s a wrap as they say!!
The first night as a whole was absolutely amazing and I was very fortunate to come the very next night to go through the experience all over again. I was always a fan of Ed but as previously said was skeptical about spending the amount I did on a ticket to go see him as I was fully aware it was just him alone on stage with the guitar. It is safe to say any doubts I had about the idea of it were put to bed fairly quickly. I would have no hesitation in going again, and on that note, was actually offered a third ticket for the third night in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but had to decline as I was actually busy on the Sunday night. If there is anyone who shared my previous doubts about Ed or just haven’t had the opportunity to go, I’d advise you to go the next time he comes around as he is genuinely one of the best artists on the planet right now. Looking back at the setlist, I found there were a few notable hits that were excluded from here, songs I thought could have fit well here would be Lego House and Give Me Love but understandably not every song can make the cut.
On a final note, the support acts as a whole were amazing, Beoga since the concert I have listened to through spotify and I regret not getting into the stadium earlier to hear them as they’re outstanding. Jamie Lawson I was familiar with and have started to listen to him a bit more as time has passed. Anne Marie was amazing as expected, her new album Speak Your Mind is constantly being played on my Spotify and I would gladly go and see her live when she comes to Ireland for her own individual tour.
Finally I would like to thank Seán again for this opportunity for me to try something new, never written a blog post before and its been an interesting experience, who knows, maybe another collaboration could be on the cards depending on the events that take place.