Nervous Ed, and who could blame him? He is faced with a tough task. How does one man entertain a stage as big as Glastonbury? How does he do so for 90 minutes and with only three albums to pull from? He has conquered Wembley stadium – which is no easy feat – but this is surely one step beyond.
Does he pull it off? Well, yes and no. As could be seen from Twitter, his performance cut audiences right down the middle. By choosing to take to the stage alone and with only his voice, his guitar and his effects pedal to lean on, he produced a move that was, bizarrely, both respectful of his origins and yet also possibly not quite respectful enough of a stage as big as Glastonbury. Is this arrogant? Stupid? Brave? Or, quite possible, all three? One thing that can’t be denied is the power of his talent. Whether you like him or not, he commands respect for the way that he has with a melody, an eye for lyrical detail and his ability with a loop pedal.
The trouble with his live show is that there is not enough variation to garner undivided attention. When he unleashes his strongest material, he has the chops and the clout to pull things off. But there is a lot that is merely passingly enjoyable and not diverting enough. It’s a mix on the same sort of formula. Even the rhythms blur into one.
He opens with ‘Castle on the Hill’: his meditation on his hometown and his growing pains. He urges the crowd to put the lights on their phone on. Held aloft in the air during ‘Eraser’, he cuts loose with one of his many raps (who else realised quite how much of it there is in his catalogue?). ‘Bloodstream’ builds to an impressive crescendo that is enhanced by startling red lighting and backdrop. Eventually – and for one song only – he has a little help from his friends, but then he is back alone again. Dishing out the romantic platitudes of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and concluding with the volley of ‘Sing’, ‘Shape of You’ and ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’, he wraps things up on a crowd pleasing finale.
Always something of a marmite figure, his Pyramid slot was one big jar of the stuff.