Anti-pop star Ed Sheeran’s tour kicks off in Amsterdam on Thursday, with flamethrowers and a moving stage

On Thursday Ed Sheeran will start his diptych in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Five questions and answers about the 31-year-old singer who is probably the biggest pop star of his generation.

Stefan Raatgever

Ed Sheeran will perform in the Johan Cruijff Arena on Thursday and Friday. Are there still tickets?

Not much, but those who are satisfied with a seat high in the Arena can still go to Sheeran on Thursday. Field tickets are also available through resale sites such as Ticketswap. That option is the only way to get to the show on Friday night. In total, about 120,000 fans are expected.

To what does Sheeran owe its popularity?

Sheeran is a songsmith with a built-in radar for the catchiest chorus. At the age of 31, he already has 27 hits in the Dutch Top 40 to his name and also wrote the number 1 hit Love Yourself for Justin Bieber.

His apparent anti-pop star image also plays a part. “It’s a mystery to me why people put a poster of a chubby red-haired dude in their room,” he once said, but now his everyday look is part of its appeal. Sheeran could have just been your neighbor. Theoretically then. Although he lives in a village near his birthplace Suffolk, this town – dubbed ‘Sheeranville’ by the British press – is a completely walled estate where he has only close family and friends as neighbours.

How unique is a Sheeran concert in Amsterdam?

In the Netherlands he only gave concerts in Amsterdam (not counting festival shows). His first in our country was on March 12, 2012 in the Milky Way. There, young fans, mostly girls, were already waiting at the door from noon. That same year he was back for a concert in the Heineken Music Hall, the current AFAS Live.

Then it went via the Ziggo Dome (3 times), to the Arena, where he performed twice in 2018. His smallest show took place last October in The Qube, a room of radio station Qmusic. Sheeran’s management then banned journalists at the last minute, because reviews of the eight-song mini-concert were not wanted.

What can we expect from the +-=:x Tour?

First about the name, a compilation of the titles of the four albums that Sheeran released during his career (only ‘-‘ was not an album). The tour name is pronounced ‘Mathematics Tour† Sheeran, who performs in football stadiums all over the world, has positioned his stage roughly in the center spot. For the first time, there is also room for a full band on a rotating stage. Sheeran still composes some songs live with his loop station, but a full solo concert is no longer his show.

A big undertaking, such a Sheeran tour?

Sheeran’s previous tour, Divide, with sales of 8.8 million tickets and total revenue of $776 million, became the largest and most profitable concert series ever. Sheeran, now father of two young children, has indicated that he is na Mathematics does not undertake any large-scale tours for the time being. That is why he wanted to make an even bigger production of this concert series.

For the first time, there are flamethrowers, moving stage parts and a video screen that literally spans the entire stage. There is also a full band for the first time. The tour will remain in Europe until early fall and will continue in Australia in 2023.

In the meantime, most likely new concerts in the Americas will be announced. Another record seems to be in the making. Is Sheeran the first to break the $1 billion mark in revenue?