If Ed Sheeran sells out Wembley, Letzigrund Stadium must be a snap for him. So this weekend on his “Divide” world tour he played twice at the sold-out Zurich stadium and thrilled the crowds. Well, actually, like he always did, only now on a larger scale.
Just a few years ago I stood in ‘small’ concert locations like Kaufleuten and X-Tra in Zurich or the KKL in Lucerne to see Ed Sheeran live. Even then he thrilled the audience like no other. Just he, his guitar and the loop station. He touched you with his songs and made you laugh. He was totally lovable and down-to-earth. And he still is.
Well, the last time he was on “Multiply” tour and stopped at the Hallenstadion, I skipped the concert. But now I have resigned myself to the fact that it won’t get any smaller and made my way to Letzigrund Stadium.
Grey market problem solved?
I knew that standing in the back was out of question. There wasn’t a Golden Circle, so I’d have to get in line early. But sitting in the blazing sun for hours in this heat? Whew. I was nevertheless at Letzigrund already by 1.30 pm. Actually, it was really late. There was already a lot going on around the stadium, especially at the merch stand or the ticket tent.
The special thing about Ed Sheeran tickets is that they are personalised and precisely checked with ID at the entrance. Obviously many still had concerns in addition – name change or other problems. Each change cost CHF 15.00 and you had to have at least a copy of the buyers ID card in order to make the change. Yes, it was a good idea to consider buying a ticket beforehand. Understandable when these personalized tickets don’t really take hold.
Personalised tickets like these obviously make life a lot harder for ticket dealers on the grey market, but the problem itself is obviously far from solved. Only solution? Guys, just don’t buy those overpriced tickets at the black market!
There’s only one thing: Lots of water!
Despite the many people on site, only a few were already sitting directly at the entrances. Many were not German-speaking and obviously fans who had come from far away. The rare shadow spots, that the small thin trees threw, were of course very desired and occupied. Some protected themselves from the sun with umbrellas or bath towels. All the others were sitting opposite in the garden of the still closed restaurant or under the trees along the road in the shade. Most of them had large water bottles with them. Vis-à-vis there was even a well where you could refill. In between, however, the paramedics kept coming by with large water bottles and cups. It seemed well organized. But as they expected hundreds of people to collapse, they had to look ahead.
Inside it was different then. They did come by before the show to sell drinks. For every 5 dl bottles that were poured into cups, you paid a whopping CHF 6 (!). I know these are normal concert prices, but it’s really hard in this heat. Because 5dl of water definitely won’t last long at these extreme temperatures. Well, I was lucky to have Capri sun with me. They let you bring them in. But at some point they were also super lukewarm and sugar drinks are not the most ideal against thirst.
Of course, those who had their place did not want to give it up. While waiting for the concert to start and everyone was still sitting, it was still possible to leave your spot and get some more drinks. The dear spot neighbours usually even kept it free for you. But once people got up, there was hardly any getting through. There was then also one or the other huge drama, if the partner squeezed himself somehow back to the original place after fetching drinks.
The security in the pit were always giving out water. If you were further back, you of course were left behind though. They had the cups sent to the back, but first of all there were far too many people or too few cups. Secondly, most of the cups got stuck with the same people after only a few rows. The little groups didn’t even share a cup among themselves, no, of course everyone had to get his own. “They are such a scum!” you could hear over and over….. Surprised? Not so much. Suddenly you start thinking about how nice it is to usually get easily fresh water here…
Once again chaos admission
Okay, I actually keep wondering why I do this to myself every time – and then do it again anyway. But if you want a place far in the front, you have to put up with it. And yes, even if it wasn’t so nice now, I had actually experienced worse admissions before.
About an hour before the door opened, it suddenly went around that the barrier in front would stay and people would only be put through on the right side of the barriers. Of course, there was immediately a lot of concern, everyone jumped up and stood in line. Ah, ok, now I probably also understood why pretty much nobody had sat directly in front of the barrier but more on the side. Those who sat in front of the barriers like me had all believed they’d get away. Well, my place would probably be a few rows further back than I hoped.
When the first security guards appeared about half an hour before the doors opened, there was a huge rush and the front ones – as if it were a matter of life and death – squeezed between locks and bars to be the first to enter. “Please don’t storm!”, said a security guard through the megaphone. “Too late!” I thought to myself and could only roll my eyes. It had already happened. And it had somehow been clear that this would happen.
So many more tried to get in. Also from left and right many pushed in additionally. There you stood in the mass for half an hour, squeezed in, before the admission began at least a few minutes earlier. There was pushing and shoving. If you were pushed from behind and stumbled into the front one, they became of course aggressive. Hey sorry, it was really not my fault! Not much and I’d been out of the crowd.
The control of the personalized tickets went then fortunately surprisingly fast. But immediately some started to climb over the bars in order to get through faster. Well, it’s a good idea to get concertgoers in line. But there should have been a lot more bars that people would have lined up in a line earlier. Even back then at the Rolling Stones you could have thought they were doing this for the first time…
Well, once through the controls, everything seemed to calm down. Security people stood at short intervals all the way – from the top of the stairs down to the front of the stage – admonishing the visitors: “Don’t run!”. (Actually crazy, I know…) Which seemed to work quite well so far. On the sides you could still have stood in the front rows. But then I decided for a few rows further back and the frontal view. Which turned out to be a good place later.
From then on it took another 2.5 hours until the Brit Jamie Lawson kicked off the evening.
Jamie Lawson thrilled also at Letzigrund
Some may already know Jamie Lawson. He is not only signed to Ed Sheeran’s record company, as he told: “That’s why Ed Sheeran is my boss”. Jamie had already been support act of James Blunt last November. On his own, back then. Now he was on stage in Letzigrund with a band of three. Here, too, he was able to quickly carry away the audience along and get them on his side.
With his charming manner and little remarks he always had laughs on his side and thrilled in a 30 minute set. There was a song about letters that were never sent and the song title was “Letter Never Sent”. He earned some laughters for this fact. “The only conclusion”, inspired by the US series “The Big Bang Theory”, was not missing either. With “It’s Cold in Ohio” there was at least some cooling in the minds and “Wasn’t expecting that” most had probably heard on the radio before. The songs can be found on his two albums “Jamie Lawson” and “Happy Accidents”.
Anne ♥ Marie likes it imperfect
I had never really heard of Anne Marie – at least not consciously – and did not know what awaited me. After a short break, the band of three on keyboard, drums and guitar entered the stage decorated with strings of lights. With the heart in her name and the decoration I was expecting something cheesy and a typical “Girlie”. I wasn’t even really wrong about it 😉
As the 27-year-old entered the stage and started the first song, I was surprised and would have skipped her immediately at that moment. Anne Marie was wearing chequered cycling shorts and a very short silver top that just barely covered her black bra. Is that called fashion? She seemed to have such a lively, giggling manner that all the teenage girls at the concert were totally into , but I couldn’t really get excited about it.
Okay, that was one thing, but I didn’t really like the song either. But the girls around me seemed to be very lyrics reliable with the opening song “Ciao Adios”. It was probably one of the best known songs, because this lyrics reliability quickly diminished. You could tell on “Do it right” and “Alarm”.
Well, as she sings in “Perfect” – nobody is perfect and doesn’t have to be. Everyone has their own tics and strange habits. I could definitely agree with her on that one. And those who could identify with one or the other defect should always cheer loudly. Like Jamie Lawson, Anne Marie had written a song with Ed Sheeran called “2002”. And for “Trigger” that followed, all hands should form pistols and stretch into the air.
The British singer from Essex is best known for her collaboration with the London music collective Rudimental. So of course she also performed the joint song “Let Me Live”, in which Major Lazer (a US group consisting of DJs and producers) and Mr. Eazi (a Nigerian singer) also collaborated in the original. However, the most famous song from her set was probably the Clean Bandit title “Rockabye”, in which the Jamaican Sean Paul had also worked.
With “Friends” the band and Anne Marie finally left the stage. Well, the very synthy heavy music is somehow not really mine, but I thought it was okay in the end. She has a good voice. The only thing I would strongly advise against is those awful cycling shorts. I already didn’t like that about Kim Kardashian. But fashion is just as much a matter of taste as music 😉
Not without ‘bea’
Finally after 8.30 pm Ed Sheeran appeared on the screen. He was accompanied on stage from the backstage not only by a camera, but of course also by his bodyguard Kevin Myers. And the audience was beside themselves.
Do you already know Kevin’s Instagram account? Always at his side, “Securitykev” calls Ed “bea – before everyone else”. This means as much as “before anyone else” and is an English term for the most important person in life. With a lot of humor and even more irony Kev reports about life with Ed. Pretty wacky, but they’re both soooooo funny!
From the small concert location to the stadium
So Ed grabbed his guitar, introduced the first song, while he stood on the additional smaller stage, a kind of pedestal. You’re supposed to see him all alone on stage. Of course, the huge screens also helped. He started with one of my favourites, the catchy “Castle On The Hill”.
Yes, whether at the small Kaufleuten or the big Letzigrund stadium, it’s Ed, his guitar and the loop station. That’s all it takes. And while the colorful visuals flickered across the huge screens, I thought for a moment that he would thrill the audience easily even without these many, sometimes almost mesmerizing, pictures. That was just a nice side effect 😉 Okay, yeah, more than nice. I totally loved all those visuals! ♥
With “Eraser”, the opening track of the current album “Divide”, things continued. Rhythmically he rapped to his self-recorded beat, which he played in the loop, and sometimes ran from one side of the stage to the other. In 2011 Ed performed for the first time in Switzerland, back then at the “Energy Stars For Free”. That was the biggest gig at the time, he said. Otherwise he played in smaller venues such as the Kaufleuten.
Seven years later, he now fills all the stadiums in the world – often even twice. In March 2017 Ed started his current “Divide” world tour, which is scheduled to last until March 2019. It’s his third world tour. At that time, at the first Swiss concert, he also played his uber-hit “The A-Team”, that got the whole thing rolling and helped him to his huge success. Of course, this was a must and made the Letzigrund sing along loud and clear from the third song on.
Please don’t do it like Ed
After the mix of “Don’t”/”New Man” he had a request to his audience and set some rules. When he goes to concerts, he usually just stares at the stage. He simply never dared to dance frolicsomely and most of the time he would stick to teetering. When he then watched all the people at festivals in particular, as they let themselves go carefree, he was almost a little envious. But then he became a little more courageous and believed that he might be able to do so after all.
So we shouldn’t do what he did and we wouldn’t have to worry. The whole crowd didn’t come to watch the people around them dance. They just wanted to see him. So we should just dance and sing along as loudly as possible. Yes, Ed has remained true to this motto throughout the years: It doesn’t have to sound right, it just has to sound loud. If you don’t know the words, you just make them up. He also has the next two days off. So it doesn’t matter if he loses his voice. And we still had Sunday.
Well, at the following “Dive” it wasn’t that wild yet. But the beautiful ballad was accompanied by a first sea of lights.
Boyfriends and superdads
What was absolutely clear to Ed, by the way, is that 98% obviously had a lot of fun, while the remaining 2% of the spectators were not there quite voluntary. On the one hand, these were the boyfriends, who were rather forced by their girlfriend to go with them and Ed wasn’t really their thing. On the other hand, there were the superdads who made sure that their kids came home safely after. The latter also discussed the overpriced beer with the other superdads.
Ed wanted it to be 100%! He was sure that the girlfriends would have a lot more fun together with the boyfriends. He also hoped that one or two songs would appeal to them. Maybe that was “Bloodstream”? The song produced with Rudimental did not only come across a little darker and more aggressive because of the blood-red background.
No other superstar is so casual, honest and down-to-earth. And if all the boyfriends and superdads didn’t have to smile at least a little and felt additional sympathy for the red-haired Brit, then I don’t know.
Let the music speak
During the second part of the show Ed didn’t have so much to say and tell anymore. Beside some requests for dancing and singing, cheering on the audience, he let especially speak his songs and the corresponding pictures. All the pictures and visuals in the background were so amazing. Partly really mesmerizing.
While the cover of the current album “Divide” was shown between the songs, the LED screens change from song to song. In the following “Happier”, for example, the images flaked in the background, in part like flip-books and as if from an old movie. The stadium shone in a sea of lights.
“I’m A Mess” followed with colourful comic-like graphics, pictures and writings that obviously have meaning in his life. These were “plus”, “multiply” and “divide” signs of his album covers, smilies, lettering and street signs or also Pingu with his bag on the back. The teddy bear and the huge lion’s head, which he has tattooed, were also shown. All in bright colors, of course.
It was no surprise then that the close-ups of “Tenerife Sea” were turquoise blue and the wild “Galway Girl” colored under the sign of Ireland. After that it was already calmer again. One highlight was Ed’s mix from the song “Feeling Good” and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack “I see fire”. The huge dragon on the screen did fit the theme.
Then “Thinking Out Loud” was followed by another mix consisting of “One” and the beautiful “Photographe”. As in the official music video, photos from Ed’s childhood were also shown in the stadium. Emotionally Ed played a last ballad with the beautiful “Perfect” before he went back into Irish tunes with “Nancy Mulligan” and picked up speed. Here, too, the screen was colorfully colored to match the cheerful sounds.
Ed finally finished the show with “Sing”, but of course returned for an encore. After all, he hadn’t played his most successful song yet. At the end he entered the stage in a jersey shirt of the Swiss national football team. Number three and his name were on his back. A fan present from the day before. That’s when he played “Shape Of You”. Definitely not my favorite, but you could see immediately how most visitors had been waiting for it.
At the end Ed played up with “You need me, I don’t need you” again. First he struck the strings hardly. Then, during the song, he grabbed a Swiss flag, whirling across the stage, singing with the fans and practically rapping his lungs out.
Accompanied by huge cheering he finally left the stage after the last words of farewell. It took a moment until the stadium lights went on, the audience “woke up” and realized: It’s definitely over.
The huge crowd slowly moved out of the stadium with enthusiasm. Every now and then a photo or video of the impressive emptying stadium was taken, the one or the other song in the loop as an earworm with them. So I would have listened to Ed a lot longer, wouldn’t you?
Wrong way home
Outside, however, the question: Where is the nearest toilet? And above all: How do I get to the station? Just follow the crowd, preferably by foot. The queue at the tram stop seemed endless. However, I wasn’t the only one who was probably surprised about the detour and somehow got lost on the way. How did I get back the last time (should have been with the Rolling Stones)? Oh, never mind. So there were one or two nice conversations with other fans.
SETLIST ED SHEERAN
- Castle On The Hill
- The A-Team
- Don’t / New Man
- I’m A Mess
- Tenerife Sea
- Galway Girl
- Feeling Good / I see fire
- Thinking out loud
- One / Photograph
- Nancy Mulligan
- Shape Of You
- You Need Me, I don’t need you
all the photos you can see here Photo gallery: Ed Sheeran at Letzigrund Zurich