We were in love with the shape of him!
An earlier injury scare made Sheeran cancel some of his performances, but thankfully for the Sheerios in India, he recovered in time to make it in Mumbai on 19th November, 2017. And this is how Mumbai came to proudly host the India leg of Ed Sheeran’s Divide Album Asia Tour.
Recent reports of him attending Bollywood parties the day before were enough to build up the anticipation for this event, which would be his second trip to Mumbai (to India as well) after his successful concert in February 2014. The sole organiser for the India leg of his tour was the leading ticket company BookMyShow. Though BookMyShow has always been the go-to place to book tickets for various concerts, this time, they decided to organise their own event!
And, as per the Sherp’s observations and experience throughout the night, BookMyShow did a commendable job for their first show. Let’s go into the experience step by step.
As mentioned in an earlier article, maximum tickets were home-delivered so that there would be no traffic at the box office. Sure enough, when the Sherp arrived at 5pm in the Diamond Zone, which was when the gates were to open, there was virtually no one waiting at the Box Office, and no impatient crowds waiting to pass through security.
People who came to get their passes exchanged got them almost immediately. There were also a good number of volunteers around to answer any queries. Once we got our pass, security was a walk-in; there were curtains put up for the ladies, and virtually no queue. Security wasn’t an issue even in other zones.
Immediately on passing through security, there was a first-aid counter on the left hand side, and the merchandise counter on the right, which probably saw the longest queue of the night. A few metres ahead were the bathrooms; they were located right beside the stage, hence making sure that people did not have to walk much to relieve themselves. The bathroom was a proper establishments of the venue, unlike the porta potties normally found at concerts. They were well equipped with water, handwash and toilet paper at all times.
The stage, however, was the highlight of the venue. It gave revellers a taste of state-of-the-art visuals and lighting. However, there were a few complaints from the general zone, where kids couldn’t see much of the show once Ed took the stage and the crowds thronged to get a good look right in front.
The layout was great, with places being equally approachable from any area of the ground. Hence, people could save up their energy for Ed, and not waste time in waiting to fill their stomach, which brings us to…
Food! Food! Food!
To avoid hassles with cash exchange, attendees had to buy RFID cards and top them up with minimum Rs. 200, followed by denominations of Rs. 100. Since there were no other organisers, there was just one café, aptly named as the ‘BookMyShow Café’, that offered a variety of items from Dim Sums, to Roti Kebab Rolls, to nachos, popcorn and fries. Items cost between Rs. 200-350. Each zone had its own café, although the lines to get your RFID card recharged were uncomfortably long. Furthermore, once the order was place, it was delivered well on time. Since the counter was open even after the concert ended, most people chose to fill their stomachs after having exhausted themselves singing to Sheeran’s tunes. But we will get to that soon enough.
The venue served alcohol and IDs had to be presented before one could aquire an alcohol permit and band. You could get yourself a drink from Rs. 250 to above, which we feel is as much as one would pay at a good pub in Mumbai. However, we did have to pay Rs. 50 for a glass of water, and no cans were allowed to be carried. This was apparently, to prevent people from throwing them on stage, which in retrospect sounds impossible when looking back at how the event was. Although there was a drinking water fountain near the merchandise store, people chose to stick to bottled water instead.
The efforts made to maintain a clean surrounding was definitely commendable. There were bins stationed at different points and they were regularly emptied by workers before filling up to the brim. Even by the end of the concert, the bins were cleaned out.
Just a few minutes after the scheduled time of 7pm, out came the opening act Ari StapransLeff aka Lauv, a 23 year old American singer, who wasted no time in getting the crowd up on their feet with singles like ‘Like Me Better’ and ‘Easy Love’. The crowd went wild the moment he began playing ‘A Different Way’, his collaboration with the famed DJ Snake.
No sooner did Lauv leave the stage than the audience began screaming ‘We want Ed!’, repeating those screams whenever the lights would dim. Teenagers around were on their tiptoes, unable to contain their excitement and trepidation at the prospect of seeing their idol performing live in a matter of minutes. At around 8:15 pm, Sheerios from all parts of the country went ballistic, as their idol emerged casually from the back sans introduction, wearing a blue-coloured kurta designed by Farzana Cama Balpande of BookASmile, which remained his outfit for most of the night.
He started his set with recent hit ‘Castle on the Hill’, setting a nostalgic tone for those reliving their childhood days. He quickly changed it up with ‘Eraser’, and again with ‘A-Team’, asking the audience to hold up their flashlights as is his custom with this song. The otherwise jubilant crowd swayed to and fro, reciting every lyric to this emotional tune, and the lights all around added to the effect.
Ed kept taking breaks in the middle to address the audience, joking about how boring of a concertgoer he is (giving us a dazed, zombie like expression—his bad concertgoer look), and making casual fun of reluctant fathers and boyfriends who attend these type of concerts. He would change his guitar depending on the album that he is playing, thus keeping audiences guessing as to what was to come next.
One of the highlights of his set was definitely ‘Bloodstream’. His extended part on the song’s intense climax (which included clapping his guitar) reverberated all over, and the crowd went into a frenzy.
As Ed played each song, the stage screens would be illuminated with different scenes, depending on the song. This was especially evident during ‘Photograph’, when different pictures of him from his childhood would flash on to the screen.
He got the fans to shake a leg to ‘Galway Girl’, and immediately got them teary-eyed with ‘How Would You Feel’ and his latest hit ‘Perfect’. Soon enough, he got to playing his Grammy Award winning song ‘Thinking Out Loud’, and the audience repeated each word as if they were reading from a teleprompter. The audience’s chanting continued with ‘Nancy Mulligan’ and ‘Don’t’.
Towards the end of ‘Sing’, Ed quickly left the stage leaving the audience confused and unsatisfied. But before they could even react with screams, he returned to the stage, clad in the famous blue Indian cricket team jersey, and got to playing his most popular and most viewed YouTube song, ‘Shape of You’. One would expect his set to end with this song, but everyone was in for a huge surprise.
You see, Ed hadn’t showed his fans his beatboxing skills live, so he decided to do that by performing a drawn-out rendition of ‘You Need Me’ from his first album + (Plus). This more than five minute version had him rapping, beatboxing, and some guitar mastery that gave his fans a finale that they could never ever forget.
Throughout the gig, Sheeran seemed unperturbed by the heat on the stage, as he powered through each and every song, running across different parts of the stage to address the audience, and smile every few seconds. He seamlessly switched microphones depending on the effect that he wanted to add, and only asked his carpenter to play the piano for one of his tunes, showing his down-to-earth roots.
He never failed to tell the Indians how much he loved them, and of course took his signatory picture of the crowd well before he left.
Once the gig was done, the Sherp saw people still hanging around, most of them flocking to the food and beverage stands to prevent themselves from fainting. There were happy smiles everywhere, and besides a few cups and cartons, the grounds were cleaner than expected. People moved out in orderly fashion, and the police were immediately around to divert traffic wherever necessary, thus preventing any major jams.
On the whole, BookMyShow have definitely set a good standard for future events to come. One small suggestion— some free water to quench our thirst, especially when you bring in artists who make us stretch our vocal chords to the limit!