Will it be seven in a row for Sheeran?
If Ed Sheeran manages to sell out seven shows on Saturday, it’ll be a game-changer
The latest episode of the Ed show airs on Saturday morning when hundreds of thousands of tickets will go on sale for Ed Sheeran’s 2018 Irish tour. It’s a big and ambitious ask, with seven outdoor shows in a row, including two dates at Dublin’s Phoenix Park, which is getting back into the gigging business after four fallow summers.
However, the act, promoter and the various middlemen involved in putting a deal like this together obviously think the demand is there to warrant supply of this kind. There are even some gaps in the schedule if extra dates are called for.
There are precedents for a nationwide excursion of this scale. Back in 2013, regular Irish visitor Bruce Springsteen decided to get out of Dublin 4 and played five shows in Limerick, Cork, Belfast and Kilkenny instead.
It was a fantastic way to capitalise on rampant demand to see the star, create a new story and ensure more Brucemania.
Though he’s a much younger buck, Sheeran also has form when it comes to the big days out in Irish fields. His brace of shows at Dublin’s Croke Park in 2015 demonstrated that one man, a guitar and a loop station can pull quite a crowd. Demand for his recent appearances at the capital’s 3Arena were also signs that Sheeran is a very big deal.
An interesting aside about next year’s Irish tour is the fact that Sheeran appears to be blanking Croker. It turns out that the pointless and tiresome rounds of ridiculous and uninformed speculation from clickbait merchants and badass bookies about Sheeran playing there in 2018 were all wide of the mark.
It’s not that Sheeran has a problem with the GAA: he’ll be giving a few bob in rental fees next year to Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Galway’s Pearse Stadium. But his decision not to play at GAA HQ at a time when the venue could be available raises some interesting questions.
Perhaps a delegate might ask some of these questions at the GAA Congress next year. Just what is the story with big gigs at Croker? Does any one promoter get first dibs on the venue? And if so, how much is this deal worth?
The real barometer of Sheeran’s standing is just how many of the shows will sell out straight away on Saturday morning. A promoter wants to ensure that a gig or tour opens as strongly as possible so they’re not left holding thousands of unsold tickets. The last thing they want to do is resort to a radio ad campaign on the scale of the ones unleashed to try to flog tickets for Dublin outdoor shows by Phil Collins and Neil Diamond.
However, next year’s tour is about more than just selling tickets. It’s also an important step in establishing Sheeran as a long-term fixture. Many acts have done well for a couple of years, but it’s rarer to come across someone who sets themselves up for long haul.
Changes in the music industry’s methodology are partly to blame for the stasis around developing and establishing new, fresh headliners.
To date, Sheeran has demonstrated plenty of songwriting and live performance skills and it’s paid off well for him. The next step is to show he intends to be around for quite some time to come.
Selling out seven big Irish shows on Saturday will go some way to proving that.
Next year’s tour is about more than just selling tickets. It’s also an important step in establishing Sheeran as a long-term fixture