Ed Sheeran was forced to play acoustic guitar at the first of his two Eden Park concerts as the sound system failed several times late in the show - clearly frustrating the singer but allowing him to thrill the crowd with an impromptu, more intimate performance.
Despite the technical glitches late in the show, the Eden Park crowd remained clearly enthralled by Sheeran’s acoustic performance.
The British pop star was busy crooning his beloved track Bloodstream when the sound system first crashed.
Halfway through, the sound started crackling and he was forced to stop playing not once, not twice, but three times in a row.
Waiting for him to return, the crowd did what they do best at Eden Park - entertaining themselves with a Mexican wave. Despite the technical challenges, it was clear the crowd was enjoying a stunning concert.
Sheeran was visibly annoyed at the second malfunction, looking skywards before disappearing down the hole. Returning to the stage, he admitted he’d have to play acoustic songs until the issue was fixed.
He said his acoustic version of his hit Bad Habits was performed “for the first and last time”. He received rapturous applause.
Sheeran knows exactly what Kiwis want to hear. And he delivered it - despite the technical issues.
Last week at Wellington’s Sky Stadium as he performed the first NZ show of his global Mathematics tour, he had 48,000 of us eating out of the palm of his hand.
He raved about the capital city, telling us he wanted to move there, apologised for hating on our beloved Whittaker’s, and played his hit from The Hobbit soundtrack, I See Fire to deafening applause.
So, how did his first show at Auckland’s Eden Park compare with last week’s triumph in Wellington – admittedly his favourite place in Aotearoa?
Tonight marked the first time the pop star has played in the City of Sails since 2018. After Auckland suffered disastrous flooding a couple of weeks ago, doubt was cast over whether he’d actually make it here.
But the skies stayed clear and Aucklanders finally got to enjoy an outdoor show - and forget for a couple of hours that another cyclone is heading our way. Having already seen the stage and set at Sky Stadium didn’t lessen the wow factor at Eden Park, complete with fireworks, huge light displays and a rotating stage.
Appearing in an Auckland T-shirt, Sheeran proved once again that he knows how to wow a crowd. Opening with Tides from his newest album, Equals, he moved on to nostalgic hits we all know from the 2010s like I’m A Mess and Don’t. Before the sun set over Eden Park, the crowds had their phones lit up and waving along to the heartbreaking The A Team.
”I’m sad that I’m leaving in a couple of days,” Sheeran told the crowd before reminiscing about how New Zealand fans helped The A Team become his first big hit.
”But every time I come back here I feel like one of your own.”
And the crowd clearly felt the same. However you feel about his music, there’s no denying his appeal to all generations - from kids on their parents’ shoulders to middle-aged couples to 20-somethings moshing as close to the stage as they could get.
We’ve heard them all before, from Photograph to Castle On a Hill, but there’s something about hearing them performed live that breathes new life into each of his songs. And the unassuming ginger-haired 31-year-old knows how to tug on the heartstrings, with countless couples slow dancing along to Thinking Out Loud and Perfect.
And the question on all of our lips was, of course, has he practised Galway Girl since the moment he needed 10-year-old Palmerston North schoolgirl Pippa Guerin help him to finish the song in Wellington? Sounded like he had. Sheeran didn’t miss a beat of the song this time round, to the crowd’s delight.
It didn’t all go smoothly - but the crowd certainly weren’t complaining. They were happy with just Ed and his guitar. That’s how we came to know and love him and his music all those years ago, after all.