Of course, the intimate performance by Ed Sheeran (30), Monday at the VRT, was a musical high mass. But the conversations he had for De Warmste Week, with people who had often been deeply involved, echoed the loudest. “Failure is part of it. Embrace that, and move on.”
Tying Ed Sheeran for De Warmste Week, that’s called stunting. Well, it helps that he’s coming out with a new album at the end of this month, = (Equals). Because new albums deserve promotion. But the British superstar’s presence on the public broadcaster Monday evening felt very natural and casual.
There was the setting. About 150 people had won a ticket for the showcase. With an artist who usually fills stadiums and festival fields on his own, it was like having him in your living room at home. The TV studio had also been converted into a sort of circus tent with illuminated trees around it. That may sound silly, but it worked wonderfully. Warm and cosy, without question.
The theme of the solidarity action – being able to be who you are – was also not avoided. Seven guests from the audience were allowed to share their stories and ask Ed Sheeran a question. There was a girl who used to be very slim and who had lost the fight against the pounds since puberty, or Klaudia, who stuttered for a long time. How do you keep your head straight, when many around you drive you into uncertainty. Ed Sheeran should know that, because he says he never had any boyfriends before. Him, the red-haired stutterer with thick glasses.
Andries was “in a bad place” a few years ago, after a breakup, and Astrid, who was born with spina bifida (‘open back’, ed.) looked death in the eye after a delicate operation. Among them is Gio, a big football fan who also preferred to see his now eleven-year-old son Matisse go in that direction. Until, two years and many tears later, Matisse finally dared to admit that he would rather dance. How do you deal with that when your path deviates?
Ed Sheeran always built a nice story around it. About embracing the failure and moving on. About realizing that those who make your life miserable, often do so because they are struggling with problems themselves. About finding balance, and the healing power of music – Bon Iver helped him through a love break. “Don’t adapt, do what makes you happy. Don’t be afraid to break out of yourself. You are your best self,” he concluded. Without his guitar strapped in, he sometimes seems a bit timid, and he sometimes searches for words, but it makes him charming and believable.
Of course there was also music. With his regular loop station there, a whole tire in a box. Among other Overpass graffiti on Bad habbits, from the forthcoming album. Thinking out loud, Perfect and – of course – Shape of you also passed. Until it was over after an hour. The audience had meanwhile clapped, danced and grabbed each other tightly. Ed Sheeran’s campaign already raised 108,429 euros for De Warmste Week, which this year takes place from Saturday 18 to Friday 24 December in Mechelen.