Ed Sheeran Mathematics Tour MNL 2024: A visual sonic feast

Not really a Swiftie but a Sheerio ;)

All roads led to Ed Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour 2024 at SMDC Festival Grounds last Saturday, March 9, 2024. I missed his Manila concert back in 2018 and this year, I didn’t want to miss it for the world. So without a blink of an eye, I jumped on the earliest available Air Asia flight last Saturday to catch the concert in the evening. My sister treated me to CAT3 reserved seat tickets at the open air venue so I was super thrilled and grateful to see Ed Sheeran a little bit closer than I imagined.  Our vantage point allowed us to fully appreciate the monumental stage set-up, a circular LED screen held up by laser sourced Ayrton lighting rigs and a fully automated, TAIT navigated revolving stage that gave the audience a full unobstructed view of the beloved British singer-songwriter. The immersive light and sound technology employed in this concert definitely blurred the lines between live performance and digital art wizardry. Mathematics Tour 2024 is all that it adds up to be and more. 

Crowd favorite local indie folk pop band Ben & Ben was the front act for the evening. Bloody excellent choice, Ed! I was doubly stoked as Ben & Ben is my fave local artist and I've always wanted to see and hear them play live. I am a  fan of their music genre and it was refreshing to hear the 9-piece band play their popular songs like Leaves, Kathang Isip, etc to an adoring crowd. The highlight of the evening would have to be Ed Sheeran sharing the stage with the B&B twin brothers Miguel Benjamin and Paolo Benjamin Guico (hence Ben & Ben) for a  duet  of their hit song Maybe the Night. Ed singing the lyrics of Maybe the Night gave us all the warm fuzzies! 

Ed Sheeran opened the show with fireworks and an electrifying rendition of Tides, the first song in his 28 song setlist that ended with an equally charged song Bad Habits. A curtain of fireworks closed the stage, a fitting culmination to an unforgettable night. Almost all of  my favorite songs were in the setlist- The A Team, Lego House, Shape of You, Galway Girl, Castle on the Hill and Afterglow so I was one happy Sheerio. Perfect  is one song I often play on my guitar so I felt really surreal when Ed Sheeran sang it to a gently swaying crowd, their mobile phones lighting up the night like a swarm of fireflies.  At the start of the show, Ed assured the audience that everything in the concert is performed live. He emphasized that no single concert of his sounds exactly the same. With guitar in hand and his signature loop pedal, Sheeran was a one-man rock band, his every move amplified and transformed into mesmerizing, almost hypnotic  thematic MTV style LED board videos. I've been to many rock concerts (in my youth, hehe) and I can say Sheeran's rotating stage platform is a breakthrough in audience engagement. In whatever seat tier you are, you are given the equal opportunity to see the performer in  360 degree glory. 

My favorite part of the concert aside from Ed’s duet with Ben & Ben is his heart stirring rendition of Tenerife Sea, a song which I particularly adore and that never fails to give me goosebumps. The excited crowd fell into a hushed spell when he reached the bridge of the song and softly crooned "Lumiere darling, lumiere over me, lumiere darling, lumiere over me." Ah, my heart slayed by this ginger-haired Brit. 

Ed's set started at 8:15 pm and ended at 10:40 pm. Another front-act was Calum Scott, a fellow Brit and alumnus of Britain's Got Talent. We missed his performance since we got entangled in the Pasay City traffic jam (I meant it literally when I said all roads led to SMDC). As expected going home after the concert is another story in itself. Despite the challenging post-concert traffic situation, Pinoy Sheerios went home happy, bathed in a warm concert afterglow. 

The cool breeze and pleasant weather (so untypical of summer nights) made the concert more enjoyable and memorable. In the night sky, the new moon shone, the lumiere that Ed Sheeran's music makes us feel. 

We can't wait for Ed to come back! Don't make us wait for another 6 years, please! 

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