Sheeran sings praises of his 'amazing' fans at first Northern Ireland gig in four years
Pop superstar Ed Sheeran praised his "amazing" Belfast fans for "filling the field" and challenged them to leave without their voices after his sold-out gig at Boucher Road Playing Fields last night.
The Shape Of You performer took to the stage in front of a crowd of around 42,000 people, and was supported on stage by Co Antrim trad band Beoga.
Local fans, some of whom were wearing ginger wigs in homage to the Galway Girl singer's trademark tresses, roared their approval as the global icon played his first concert here in four years.
Addressing the crowd, Sheeran said: "Now I know it's Wednesday, but can we treat tonight like it's the weekend?
"We're gonna leave here without our voices!
"Sorry it's been four years, but thank you for filling the field.
"This is amazing!"
The singer-songwriter kicked off his set with Castle On The Hill, then launched into a string of chart-toppers including Thinking Out Loud and the crowd-pleasing Sing.
Before playing Bloodstream, Sheeran (27) encouraged the crowd to "get involved" by swaying their arms, singling out the "super dads looking after the kids" and "boyfriends that don't really want to be there".
And he even threw in a nod to the traffic chaos which threatened to engulf Belfast due to his gig coinciding with the Europa League play-off semi-final at Windsor Park, urging people to "stop worrying about the traffic on the way home".
His mixture of humour and talent won the approval of his army of local fans, many of whom were clad in waterproof gear amidst sodden conditions.
"I think when I'm 70 I'll be telling everyone I went to see Ed Sheeran in 2018," said Belfast woman Verity Hamill (32). "He is amazing."
Bangor woman Kerri Drumm (29) pronounced the concert "fantastic".
"It's great to have Ed Sheeran come to Northern Ireland," she added.
Co Down fan Karla Bailey (32) cheekily admitted that she had matrimony in mind as she witnessed the English star's performance.
"I'm here to find my future husband, and I think Ed could help me out!" she laughed.
And Bangor concert-goer Melanie Latimer (37) said she had come for "good music and a dance with my friends for the hottest ginger in town!"
Sheeran will complete a string of Irish dates at Pearse Stadium in Galway from May 12-13, before finishing up at Phoenix Park in Dublin on May 16, 18 and 19. The success of his latest tour is likely to consolidate his position as one of the UK's top-earning young musicians.
Last year Sheeran's wealth grew by £28 million - more than any other British musician.
While he occupies 35th place in the overall list of richest UK musicians, he is the second-wealthiest young musician after Adele.
The Halifax native has an overall net wealth of £80m, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.