Unlike most concerts that boast of spectacular effects when performers go onto the stage, Ed Sheeran just walked up casually. Before he stepped onto the stage, he grabbed his guitar, looked at his audience and immediately started playing. This did not stop the crowds, however, from screaming their lungs out as they see the much-awaited singer.
Record-breaking music event in Finnish history
The British singer performed at Malmi Airport in two consecutive nights. This concert has broken the national record as the largest music event in Finnish history with the original date July 24 concert selling out all 60,000 tickets in just under 20 minutes. An extra date, July 23, was announced immediately after the first one was sold out and sold 48,000 tickets.
For comparison, previous records for the most popular music events in Finland’s history include the 1995 Rolling Stones concert at Helsinki’s Olympiastadion, which sold 52,000 tickets in just over 24 hours, and the fastest-selling was U2’s 360 Degrees Tour in 2010 that sold over 50,000 tickets in less than two hours.
This is Ed Sheeran's first concert in Finland, as part of his world tour with his record breaking album "Divide". A singer and a songwriter of this generation, he has long enjoyed immense popularity not only in Finland. His multi-platinum 2017 track ‘Shape of You’ holds the top spot for the most streamed song on Spotify globally since its release. Ed has continued to dominate charts across the globe since his first song, selling over 15.5 million copies sold worldwide to date.
How Ed does it
Ed started off with his hit song Castle on the Hill, which got the audience to sing along. One of the front acts, Zara Larsson, was unable to come because she was sick. This moved Ed's performance 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled time.
After the first song, he explained how he could produce the whole song on his own using a looper pedal, banging guitars to imitate drum beats, blending different tones to complement the song and other effects. He has become quite known in using this in his live performances as it creates powerful sonic backdrops far beyond the scope of the traditional acoustic soloist.
Loopers are simple in concept: you record what you are playing and then, when you kick the pedal, what you just recorded is instantly played back to you, providing a backing for you to record another line over.
Ed ❤ Finland
Between his performances, Ed has mentioned how he spent his 27th birthday in Lapland, a region in the northernmost part of Finland. He said he went to the sauna and loved rolling on the ice during his one week stay. After a few songs, he looked at the sky smiling and told everyone how wonderful it is to be in Finland and perform at almost 10 pm with the sun still shining brightly. He also learned how to say thank you in Finnish, which is kiitos.
Fans from other cities and countries also came to watch
It wasn't only Finns or residents of Helsinki who flocked the concert. There were also people from other cities and foreigners who booked flights and hotels just to see the singer. It's a perfect timing that the concert is in summer, when Finland is really bombarded with tourists.
The queue was supposed to start at 9am, as announced weeks prior. But the first enthusiastic fans were there even the night before, ready with their sleeping bags, foldable chairs, picnic blankets, playing cards, and food. The queue was hundreds of meters long. The gates opened shortly before 4pm and the first enthusiastic fans were able to claim their seat in the front row of the British pop gig.
Because of such a huge crowd, people expected to queue at the event area for long periods, but surprisingly, the average wait time was only 20 minutes, even with the checking of identification when presenting the tickets. Those who came at a later time even said it took them only about 5 minutes.
By 5 pm, thousands had already arrived. There were booths everywhere, from food stalls to people selling basic concert kits such as ear plugs and disposable raincoats and concert memorabilia such as shirts, pins, etc. On the first day, it started raining before the front act James Bay performed, but almost everyone's prepared with their caps and raincoats. Good thing it was only a light shower and the skies cleared right before the performance begin.
Preparing for the concert
Everything has gone well and it was an overall successful event. Fans were thrilled posting photos and videos on social media with hashtags #edsinki. It was indeed a big crowd but the place was huge enough for everyone.
There were signs for everyone to follow, and young people in neon green vests were hired by the city of Helsinki to assist concerts goers across the whole 30-min walking stretch from two different metro stations (Tapanila and Malmi) going to the concert. Blue toilet cubicles were everywhere. There were also water points for everyone to refill their bottles and big balloons with signs of toilets so people would know where to go.
Several releases on special traffic arrangements and people were advised of congestion due to large audiences. Additional transport services were provided for concert goers. But there are still some who brought cars with them and even said that the roads were pretty clear.