Edceptional One-Man Band in Manila
“This is honestly, honestly, hand on heart, 100% the best reception I’ve ever received” said the British singer songwriter during his first show in Manila.
Can Ed Sheeran alone entertain his sold out show in Manila? How many people can have the guts to put only 2 guitars, 2 microphones, one loop pedal, and one man on stage performing, plus a few LED screens behind him so everyone can see him and have just so much talent to kill? We were able to witness and get answers to those questions last Thursday night at Mall of Asia Arena when Ed hit the Manila’s stage for the first time. The Arena was packed for one of the most popular artists in the world today, a man who only a few years ago was busking for coins in England.
I was as ready as I could be for all the screaming teens, but looking at the venue before the show started the thing that surprised me most was when I saw a bare stage as if no one was going to play. As the audience waited in anticipation for Ed’s arrival, MOA arena shocked into darkness, causing a deafening scream around the venue. From first sight of that ginger hair the entire crowd went crazy. Wearing a red/black plaid with white shirt underneath and jeans, Sheeran slowly walked onto the stage with a huge smile on his face and kicked off the show with I’m A Mess. He had so much energy and stage presence and got really involved with the audience. He greeted us by saying, “Manila!!” then he said “My job for the next two hours is to entertain you and your job is to be entertained.” Then, he invited us to sing, dance and have the time our lives.
“This is the best show I have ever done”, he said after performing one of his huge hits, Lego House. You can tell by his expression that this multi-platinum singer-songwriter is truly grateful to be where he is today. The many thank-you’s , “I don’t want to leave the Philippines. I’m overwhelmed with the reception, thank you so much.” I didn’t expect those words coming from his mouth that night. I got impressed by his passion and deepness while performing.
He told us to just relax and enjoy the music. His ranges that night were top the notch, from the acoustic-rock, confessional rap of “Take it Back”, amazing cover of “Superstition” and the vengeful “Don’t.” The exciting surprise of the show was during the middle of the set, when he started singing All of the Stars, a soundtrack from the movie, ”The Fault in Our Stars.”
Nowadays, it’s so rare for an act to have an audience sing along to what is technically an album track as Ed did when he performed “Photograph”, one of the songs that stood out for me personally, a ballad track about keeping someone you love close to you, a photograph with you is a reminder that the memories and the person will always be with you forever. What I like about this show is that there were times when Sheerios put down their mobile phones and cameras just watch and, of course, sing.
The British singer who just turned 24 last month also joked with the crowd throughout, turning on his charm to thank Manila for having him. He also shared about the writing process behind some of his songs. The funniest and cutest moment of the night was when he sneezed while singing Tenerife Sea, the crowd laughed for a few seconds then he continued performing the song.
When Ed switched his guitar, the excitement just reached its peaked. Everyone got pumped up to hear the most played and most popular song in the country today. From the moment he struck the first chord of the song, the crowd erupted. A soulful and heartwarming rendition of “Thinking Out Loud,” was played which highlighted the power of his voice. It’s one of the best love songs and no doubt that everyone in the arena pulled their heartstrings.
He also touched a soundtrack from the film, The Hobbit, “I See Fire”, with great visuals including the dragon Smaug on the video screen. A sea of mobile phones greeted an acoustic and powerful version of “The A Team,” a song about a drug addict that he wrote after visiting a homeless shelter.
After a very memorable performance, Ed Sheeran said “This is my final song of the evening, I’m gonna say technically the rest is up to you”, then he started to sing an emotional performance “Give Me Love”. After teasing his fans with a short exit and cheeky smirk, Ed then returned for the last songs of the night, which included You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, In Da Club and Dance which really got the crowd pumping and then followed by Sing, he left the stage as the song continued and the audience was singing “ooh ooh ooh ooh, oh” to an empty stage and his performance stuck in everyone’s head for the rest of the night.
His doubts about his popularity in the Philippines should have been gone after he successfully pulled off every song in the set list – from asking everyone to sway their hands during Bloodstream and getting to hold their phones at specific time of the show.
The night we saw Ed Sheeran on stage was one of the most unforgettable nights of our lives. We will never forget how he played his electric guitar on “Thinking Out Loud” and his acoustic guitar on “Photograph” for the first time ever in a live concert performance in Manila. But most of all, we will never forget the atmosphere at Mall of Asia Arena when he walked on the stage and started playing with pure perfection, to when he ended the entire night off two hours later with an amazing encore of “Sing” . It was one of the most perfect nights of our lives made even more perfect by a ginger man with a British accent making songs and relatable lyrics with nothing but his guitar, his amazing voice and loop pedal.
Overall the show was an excellent, without a question, one of the best concerts ever, he is worthy of fame and success. I couldn’t believe how simple all the show was and even though it was a one-man show. He is really a genuine artist and down-to-earth through his performances too as he doesn’t do anything too flashy. It is safe to say that this man will be one of the defining artists of our generation. His music transcends any definable genre, combining soft folk with acoustic pop, rap and hip-hop. It is hard to describe and visualize how great he sounds until you see him live.
* Special Thanks to MMI Live
View More Photos at Ed Sheeran Live in Manila Photo Gallery
Words by: Cent and Dap Ayala
Photos by: Glenn Michael Tan
X Tour: Ed Sheeran Live in Manila Setlist
I’m A Mess
Don’t/No Diggity (Blackstreet)/Nina
Take It Back/Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
All of the Stars
Thinking Out Loud
Feeling Good (Nina Simone)/I See Fire
The A Team
Give Me Love
You Need Me, I Don’t Need You/In The Club (50 Cent)/Fancy (Iggy Azalea)