It has been exciting to see the country’s growth in recognition from global mainstream music for the past few years. Ed Sheeran’s second visit could be considered a moment in this timeline that fortifies India as a well-established hub for the most celebrated artists in the world.
From the venue and logistical perspective, this gig set a pretty high bar for shows in the city with streamlined organisation and an awe-inspiring visual setup and pretty much everything about the management ticked all the right boxes.
Lauv, who has been opening for Ed throughout the Asia tour, put up a very energising performance with drummer Rob Ernst, so much so as to break his first guitar string on tour.
Ed came out sharp at 8 donned in a blue “डिवाइड” kurta and rushing into Castle On The Hill, with an astonishing combination of energy and emotion. Switching guitars for almost every song, he masterfully wove through dynamics with Eraser and A Team. His stage presence puts pretty much all of his contemporaries to shame, and this was exemplified when he stopped to talk about how awkward he used to be during the gigs he would go for, and how he’d like everyone to dance as weirdly and freely as they would if no one were watching. There’s nothing kids and millennials can relate to more than a shy kid making a weird face.
He moved on to play a mashup of Don’t and New Man with some impressive visuals on screen, following up with Dive that was carried in significant volume by the entire audience screaming along. After a masterful performance of Bloodstream and Galway Girl, he once again dropped the flow with How Would You Feel, featuring his crew member PJ Smith in an expert keyboard accompaniment.
Arguably the most powerful performance came up with Photograph, where visual clips of his childhood drifted up on screen alongside an emotional Ed, that would make even the “boyfriends and Super Dads” bawl like the rest. He lifted up once again with Nancy Mulligan, followed by his personal favourite composition, Perfect. Thinking Out Loud came next as a crowd pleaser with the crowd once again rivaling his energy. He seemingly ended on Sing, but returned in an Indian jersey to perform Shape Of You. Even the scattered crowd around the corners dropped their food and ran to the barricades for this one, along with the final You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.
In a ninety-minute show by a British pop star with a guitar and loop pedal, Mumbai witnessed what was probably the most impactful concert of 2017, with thousands of fans satiated and the bar for gigs raised immeasurably.