Ed Sheeran is the busker with a budget. To co-opt those mathematical terms he likes to use as album titles, his ordinary blokeness is a plus and a minus.
Hydro, Glasgow ***
This huge sold-out show was almost exclusively one man and his acoustic guitar throughout but, however one feels about his music, one has to admire how he has managed to gussy up such a simple set-up with the aid of a loop pedal, a state-of-the-art carousel of screens and the input of 13,000 willing backing vocalists, who wasted no time making their voices heard on Castle On The Hill, a clichéd slice of sentimental nostalgia which could be this generation’s Summer of 69.
There was no displeasing the fans, who have even embraced the ridiculous Galway Girl, thankfully divested here of its naffer Celtic embellishments but signposted blatantly by lurid green lighting.
But, for the passerby, things started to sound pretty samey as Sheeran settled into his two default positions – the MOR love ballad and the hip-hop/R&B-influenced groove numbers, the best examples of each coming towards the end of the set.
Thinking Out Loud, for which he briefly went electric, is his most complete song, one which will likely reverberate longer than the disposable but way more enjoyable falsetto funk of Sing. As for technique, the stripped-back I See Fire showcased the finer points of his singing and playing, and the thin gruel of You Need Me, I Don’t Need You was jammed out to a blaring climax.