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Ed Sheeran wows 40,000 Belfast fans at Boucher Playing Fields as even rain can’t dampen spirits

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Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

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Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Ed Sheeran provided a lesson in musicality as his Mathematics (+–=÷x) World Tour touched down at Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast, on Thursday evening with 40,000 braving the rain to see him perform.

Much discussion was had on his unique, 360 degree arena-style staging, the likes of which the city had never seen before –a revolving podium, which he described as being “like Yo Sushi” ensured every inch of the crowd was catered for, with impressive plectrum shaped projections reminding us this is a man most at home with his guitar in hand.

Opening with new song, ‘Tides’, Ed was welcomed to Belfast with a deafening cheer. Having last played the city in 2018, he appeared suddenly with a quick: “Belfast how we feeling tonight!?”

He later told the crowd to “look lively” as they were being recorded for the Billboard Music Awards.

Colourful explosions and pyrotechnics fired from the unique staging, Sheeran standing confidently in a simple black t-shirt with the word “Belfast” proudly displayed across his back.

A four-piece backing band added extra weight for an electric opening, before Ed settled back to the comfort of his five loop-pedals, which he explained he uses to build his own backing tracks, no small feat.

Whilst supported by a recent number one album, this tour, named after all of his previous albums, is very much a greatest hits performance for Sheeran.

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Singing, rapping and strumming through his biggest tracks - it isn’t until you hear these songs put together in a cohesive playlist that you can begin to appreciate the length and breadth of his talent.

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Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Ed Sheeran performs during the Mathematics tour at Boucher Road Playing Fields on May 12, 2022 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Sheeran initially rose to prominence through the London busking scene, sharing a strong connection with the city’s emerging Grime genre. He regularly appeared on the late Jamal Edwards’ SBTV YouTube channel mixing folk, pop and rap in his earlier music - themes that carry on to this day, albeit in small doses.

Nowadays he’s more at home alongside some of the world’s biggest DJs producing what is, admittedly, commercial earworm-pop with, at times, a clever twist.

An excitable crowd sang along with gusto to some of the decade’s biggest hits: ‘The A Team’, ‘Castle on the Hill’ and ‘Thinking out Loud’ - all fond reminders of this artist’s impressive career to date.

One of the most exciting parts of a live music experience is watching your idol performing music outside of their comfort zone. Beyonce’s rendition of Prince’s ‘The Beautiful One’” and Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’ at 2011’s Glastonbury stands as a perfect example.

Belfast was not treated to such a display as Sheeran covered Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’ for what feels like the hundredth time. A safe, well-versed rendition that many Sheeran fans have experienced before - impressive, but far from ground-breaking.

There’s no denying Ed’s connection with our emerald isle - both of his grandparents hail from here. Whilst ‘Galway Girl' broke-through as a global anthem for Irish diaspora, on home soil it can at times seem a novelty.

Cheesy or not, the crowd adore it and it’s with his immersive, rhythmic storytelling that Sheeran remains undeniably celtic.

Latest singles ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Shivers’ once stood as the soundtrack to every awkward, socially-distanced taxi ride last summer - dance music at a time when nightclubs were inaccessible.

These tracks take on a life of their own when presented in an arena setting where they can be truly heard as intended.

Later in the setlist, ‘Shape of You’ sees Sheeran on top form: an ironic twist considering this track was never his first choice for a single, never mind the hassle it has caused him. Having said that, it’s undeniably catchy and the crowd lap it up.

A lively encore saw Ed returning to his roots by finishing with ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’, an early shot to those in the music industry who had ever doubted his abilities.

With a sell out tour scheduled for the next year, It’s safe to safe he has nothing to worry about these days.


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