On a whim last year I bought the album Multiply by Ed Sheeran. I’d heard him on the radio like every other human being on Earth and quite liked him. After thrashing Multiply in my car for months on end, like turned to love. He was so God damn talented! When I found out he was touring again, I had to go. I wanted to buy tickets for hubby for Fathers Day. He’d taken up guitar in the last year and I figured who better to see than the musical genius himself. As I was booking, I decided for the first time I wanted to be on the floor. Every concert I’ve ever been to before I’ve been seated, which seems stupid because you spend the whole time on your feet dancing in a 40cm squared space anyway. Beyonce, Justin, Britney… I didn’t want to do it again; I wanted to feel like I was in the midst of it all, that, if the need took hold, I was close enough to throw my knickers at him. Just kidding… sort of. So I booked general admission.
When I gave the gift to hubby he was so excited. High five to me for a great gift! As the date approached, I started to feel a little nervous about going general ad. What if we ended up right at the back? What if I was stuck standing behind Lurch? What the hell happens if I need to pee? Enter, Google. Into the search bar I typed ‘How do you manage toilet breaks during general admission at a concert?’ The results made me both laugh and gasp. The simplest was to be very nice to everyone you pass and go out the exact same way as you go back in. People will remember you. The second required a little more effort, limit fluid intake from at least mid morning to avoid needing to go altogether. I could do that, I thought. The last was to, well, pee where you were. For a brief moment, I considered this a fairly viable option. Most forums were for people going to rock concerts where, let’s face it, the mosh is a place you could die. They had specific songs in a set list that are best to head for your break. There was no denying the level of commitment from those music lovers.
Ed was supported by Foy Vance, Passenger and Rudimental, first act starting at 6pm. I wanted to see them all so figured we’d need to be there by 2pm to line up. Husband didn’t agree so we got there at 4pm, after obligatory Maccas stop, where I drank perhaps a quarter of my drink. As we moved through the gates, wrists covered in bands, I found myself bouncing on my feet. Even doing a little jump every now and then, pinching hubby’s arm and repeatedly saying things like “We’re going to see Ed, in the flesh!” He got sick of it after the fourth or fifth pinch, his look said enough – yes, we’re seeing Ed but calm your farm, woman! As we made our way onto the floor the more apparent it became that we were going to be close, not panty throwing close, I’ve got a good arm but the wind would have played havoc, but close enough that I didn’t need to be looking at those giant screens to see the performance. WINNING!
We got to our spot and sat down. We still had ninety minutes to wait. Believe it or not, I actually looked at the ground and was slightly disappointed that it was plastic flooring that all clicked together like a jigsaw. Option three was immediately ruled out, I couldn’t pee where I was, so continuing to limit my fluids was my only life line even though it was 33 degrees and humid as hell. In those last few minutes before Foy Vance came on, everyone stood and pushed forward. We were twenty metres from the stage, front and centre. I couldn’t believe our luck. Even at that point, I vowed never to go seated again.
The support acts rolled in and the momentum built. I took my designated break right before Rudimental. A million “Scuse me”, “Sorry” and “Thankyou’s” later I made it out. Fresh air. I thought that wasn’t so bad but going back in turned out to be the hard part. At one point, I thought one girl was going to punch me. So I made a joke to lighten the mood “No need to stab me in the back on the way through, just getting back to my place”, a smile plastered on my face. A few people laughed, said girl broke a mild smile. I was looking for hubby’s white Yankees snapback. Finally, I spotted him.
I was sitting on the floor of the stadium, surrounded by thousands of standing people after jumping around to Rudimental like it was 1999. I was sweaty, my hair frizzy and I was laughing that I asked hubby before we left if I should take my face powder. Not even a super absorbent maternity pad could soak up that level of sweat. I seemed to have started a trend and eight people around me were now sitting and the ground started to feel distinctly like a hot yoga class. No one was doing reclining hero but the air was humid and it was hard to breathe and I thanked my yoga practise for helping me survive the sweat pit. “So what benefits do you find from hot yoga?”… “Oh you know, the usual stuff, helps for flexibility, helps if you’re in the mosh at a concert!”
Ed, Ed, Ed the crowd starts chanting. I stood up, bouncing from foot to foot. The crowd grew louder, the clapping in unison and then, he appeared. He didn’t even say anything and just broke into his first song, his presence commanded the attention and energy of the entire stadium. He finally took a moment to say hello, told the crowd our job was to lose our voice and his job was the entertain us. And entertain he did, song after song. I’ve seen big acts before, supported by a mass on dancers and other performers. I’ve seen bands like Angus and Julia Stone and Incubus but nothing compared to Ed. It just poured out of him. Every noise we could hear from that stage was made by him and only him. He was in his place, doing exactly what he was put on this Earth for. It was awe-inspiring. I even got teary at one point, consumed by the feeling I was in the presence of greatness.
The clouds overhead finally gave way and the rain began to fall. I’d packed us ponchos but I didn’t even bother digging them out. Dancing in that rain felt so fucking good. When he finally exited the stage, the crowd erupted and he came back not only for one song but played 3-4 more. He was by far the best musician I have ever had the privilege of seeing. Best. Concert. EVER.
We made our way to the train station with thousands of other fans. I sat on the curb, my throat scratchy, Nurofen in hand whilst guzzling a seven litre bottle of Powerade like I'd been stuck in the Sahara for a decade. I even sent poor husband back into the shop to fetch a three litre bottle of water to wash the sweet stuff down. I thought I probably won’t pee for days, that's how much I’ve sweat tonight. I’ve got blisters from my socks, my eyes are burning and I know my headache is going to kick in in about an hour and will stay for a day but man, was it fucking worth it