A few weeks ago I had one of those "once in a lifetime" experiences, I got to see Ed Sheeran live, in concert, at Wembley Stadium, part of a special 3 night concert event at Wembley. So, no matter if I see Ed perform live again, it will never be like this. And it was amazing!
It all started at Christmas, well, technically it started before Christmas when I got a text from my friend Taylor asking what I was doing July 10th. Ummm, I knew I'd be here in Oxford but I had no specific plans, it would be my summer vacation. So I told her I'd be free, why? She wouldn't answer, just said it was something to do with my Christmas present. Hmmmmm....I was immediately suspicious. What Christmas present has to be delivered on a specific date, so long from when we were having this conversation? I asked her, "Is this what I think it is?" "I don't know, what do you think it is?" she replied. "If I look up when Ed Sheeran is playing in London this summer, will I see July 10th?" "Lol, yes, but that's not it, that's already sold out. This is something else."
Now see, Taylor has faked me out before. I guessed the ending of series three of Sherlock due to seeing a kind of spoiler on Pinterest. But I was waiting to see it air on PBS in the States (why to the Brits get the good tv first? Not fair, but that's another blog post.) Taylor had already seen the ending, so I asked her if I was right. She told me, in all seriousness, that no, I hadn't guessed right. We had quite the laugh after the episode finally aired and I realized I'd been right all along.
So, as far as this mysterious Christmas present went, I knew that either I was right, and it was Ed Sheeran tickets, and I'd been faked out, again, by miss Taylor. Or she'd come up with something else that was bound to be amazing.
Fast forward a bit to London, just after Christmas, when mom and I were visiting for a New Years vacation, and Taylor finally giving me my "present". A postcard of London. On the back a note telling me that yes, we were in fact going to see Ed Sheeran in concert. My shriek of excitement probably probably echoed through Paternoster Square, past St. Paul's Cathedral, and all the way down to the River Thames.
I listened to Multiply on repeat all of last summer while studying in Oxford. And then continued listening to it, and all of his other music, throughout this past year. I get a bit obsessive about music, and some songs have the power to take me back to very specific moments in time and recall emotions I was feeling. So the thought of seeing him live, and in such a cool venue, was incredible. The countdown was on. Whenever people asked me what my plans were for this summer, my answer was usually, "study in Oxford again...and see Ed Sheeran in concert." The excitement doubled when I found out one of his opening acts would be One Republic. I have been beyond obsessed about that band since they first started getting played on the radio and they're one of the few bands that I listen to on my iPod regularly. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was going to be unforgettable.
I was right.
Finally, July 10th arrived. I packed my overnight bag and got on the train to London. I checked into my hotel near Paddington Station and waited for Taylor to arrive. Finally we headed to the Tube and were on our way to Wembley. We got there about 40 minutes before the first opening act, Foy Vance, was set to take the stage, so we got some drinks and snacks at the Sainsburys outside the stadium and then headed in to get our seats.
Wembley was amazing. I've never been in a stadium that size. We were in the upper level, just slightly to the side of being directly across from the stage. We were far, but still really great seats with a clear view of the stage.
First there was Foy Vance. If you haven't heard his music go to iTunes or your digital music store of choice and download his music. Immediately. Go ahead, I'll wait......I'm serious.
Ok, now that you're listening to his stuff while reading this....isn't he amazing!? His voice is incredible! The stadium was only half full at this point, a lot of people seemed to only care about being there by the time Ed came on. They. Missed. Out. Big time. He started with "Make it Rain" and I nearly died, it was so perfect. By the time he finished with "Guiding Light" (which features Ed on the album version) I knew that I was downloading his music as soon as I got back to wifi at the hotel. He has a voice that is great on recorded albums but you definitely need to hear it live to get the full effect. A new music obsession was born.
Then One Republic came out and oh my goodness. I know I was there for Ed, but I honestly could have gone home happy after their set. As I mentioned, I've been in love with their music for years. I love each album more than the previous one. But seeing them live was a whole different experience. They are a band that you MUST see live. Their music spans from pop to rock to dance to soulful ballads, and always backed up by an incredible use of instruments. Any rock band that can use a cello and a piano the way these guys do is amazing in my opinion. They started with "Secrets" (a favorite) and continued to play some of their best hits (more favorites). They did a fantastic mashup of "Apologize" and Sam Smith's "Stay with Me" and I died. Seriously. It was gorgeous and heartbreaking and just incredible. They dedicated "Good Life" to London, the city that inspired the song even though it never got released here in the UK. Incidentally, it's a song that always makes me think of London because I had it on repeat the first summer I came to visit here.
By the time One Republic came out on stage, more people had arrived and the stadium started to fill up more, so by midway through their set they had tens of thousands of people singing along with them and it was beautiful. I was very, very happy.
Finally, after a short change over break (during which time a fairly drunk but happy man managed to get the upper tier of Wembley to do the wave), it was time for Ed. The stadium was pretty much full by this point and 80,000 people were collectively holding our breath waiting for him to come on stage. He started with a video montage of clips of Ed as a kid and going through the early stages of his career before he came out on stage and kicked it all off with "I'm a Mess" and the next couple hours were a rollercoaster of awesome music and live performance.
I don't go to concerts very often, maybe once every couple years on average, and I've never been to a concert like this! For me there were a few standout moments:
1. "One" & "Photograph" - these are probably my favorite songs by Ed, for a variety of reasons that I won't get into. But the live versions, played back to back and blending into each other, that night had me in tears. Seriously. The animated graphics on the screens behind the stage combined with the musical alterations for the live version took an already incredible song and turned it into an emotional powerhouse. When the DVD comes out I will be playing that segment over and over and over again.
2. "Tenerife Sea" - this man knows how to write and perform a love song. When this song started the cell phone flashlights turned on and Wembley looked like fairy dust had descended on in. <3
3. "I See Fire" and an appearance by Smaug the dragon - I wasn't expecting the concert to take a turn towards Middle Earth but was delighted when he performed this song and the screens on stage showed clips of Smaug in the film. Super cool for a nerd like me. :)
4. Sir Elton John and 80,000 crazy fans - Sooooooo......yeah.....then there was the moment about halfway through when Ed starts going on about asking a special guest to come join him and we're all trying to figure out who it could be. Taylor Swift had just performed at Hyde Park the week before, had she stuck around? Could it be one of the opening acts from the next two nights? Who could it be?! Seriously, of all the possibilities I was not expecting SIR ELTON JOHN!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?! The response from the crowd was something I'll never forget. Everyone went crazy. For real. And it was awesome. They performed two songs, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (the kid in me died of happiness, that was always one of my favorite Elton John songs) and "Afire Love" with Elton playing the piano and joining on the chorus. It was beautiful. <3
5. "Sing" - the final song of the night and we were all dancing and singing along. He got the whole crowd to sing on the chorus, he'd tell us to "sing" and to be "louder" and by the end of it I don't think any of us had much of a voice left. It was fabulous. And with the concert done he sent us back out into the world, continuing to sing the chorus from "Sing", in the stairwells and outdoor walkways of the stadium all it would take was one (slightly drunk) person shouting "Sing" and everyone in the vicinity would start up again. :)
All in all it was a truly epic night. One I will never forget. The flood of people leaving Wembley was pretty epic as well and I got to experience first hand how crowd control for an event like that gets handled. The fact that they got all of us out and the majority of us on to the Tube was pretty amazing. By the time I got back to my hotel I was ready to crash. Downloaded Foy Vance to the iPod, took a shower, and fell into a very deep sleep. :)
Below are some of my photos from the night.
|Two very happy and excited girls! :)|
|One Republic <3|
|OMG! It's Elton John!!!!!|
|A sea of people!|
|Couldn't resist getting a tee-shirt and program.|
|I was there! :)|