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Review: Ibiza Rocks Birthday with Ed Sheeran, 23rd July

Ed Sheeran helps Ibiza Rocks to celebrate its ninth birthday

Last night an unsuspecting bat flying over San Antonio found himself in a rather precarious position. Relying on sound waves and echoes to get around, he was unsurprisingly baffled to find himself surrounded by screaming girls, chanting crowds, and the sounds of guitars blasting out into the Balearic night. He had of course rocked up to Ibiza Rocks amidst their ninth birthday celebrations, getting a free pass and birds eye view of pop sensations Saint Raymond and Ed Sheeran - so really not too bad at all - maybe that bat knew what he was doing after all.

Currently smashing their way through a sixteen-week summer, the island's champion of live music, Ibiza Rocks, is going from strength to strength and last night was no exception. We arrived in time for warm up act Saint Raymond, and the poolside venue was the busiest we'd seen it during the early support slot, a good sign for the night to come.

Currently touring with Sheeran, Saint Raymond aka Callum Burrows is no stranger to warming up for the red-headed crooner and his screaming legion of fans. Not dissimilar to Sheeran, Burrows comes across well on stage, interacting with the crowd, encouraging them to dance to expressive pop tracks like the energetic Ghosts. Joined on stage by a backing band, he gave them a break during sincere acoustic number As We Are Now, singing with just his own guitar, perhaps in homage to Sheeran himself. He ended his set with the opening song from his new EP Escapade, Fall At Your Feet, a delicate love song with an upbeat pop twist, lovely. Resident DJ Colin Peters then took over to play us through the break, with an accessible mix of Bastille, John Newman, and what would a crowd of hormonal girls be without a mass sing along of Wonderwall?

At twenty past ten the moment came that everyone had been waiting for, as Ed Sheeran himself strolled onto stage, guitar in hand. It was a scene of modern day Beatle-mania as the crowd went mad, with girls screaming, shouting and even crying in the anticipation of the boy from Framlingham. He kicked off with I'm A Mess, a heartfelt, angst filled number from his new album X, before launching into his 2011 favourite Lego House. As he told the crowd this set was one made up of some old songs, some new songs and some in between songs, telling us "if you know the words sing along, if you don't make it up", as if we needed to be told Ed!

Even if you're not a fan of his dear diary, confessional approach to pop music, you can't help but be impressed by Sheeran's live skills. Just a boy and his guitar, his abilities with a loop pedal have meant he's managed to retain his earnest, acoustic sound and yet effortlessly fill spaces from Madison Square Gardens to Ibiza Rocks. Layering up sections of lyrics, guitar solos and even the drumming of his hand on the wood of the guitar, he creates such a full sound that if you weren't paying attention you'd be forgiven for thinking he had a full band hidden down there somewhere.

After playing his emotive hit Drunk, and proving that a crowd can in fact scream louder than a ten foot sound system, Sheeran cast down the guitar and showed off his rapping skills in Take It Back. Granted, on paper this really shouldn't work from a white boy from Suffolk, but his infectious energy and playful lyrics mean that against all odds it really does. Answering any critics before they've even had the chance to speak, Sheeran quips in Take It Back, 'I'm not a rapper I'm a singer, I just take the piss' - talent and a sense of humour, girls.

The night saw audience participation at its best, with many a Sheeran-led clap, sing along choruses and even a mass-strip as he encouraged everyone to take off their tops and wave them in the air. Nearing the end of the night, the outdoor venue looked incredible as the crowd were prompted to light up the dark evening by holding up their lighters, (OK so this is 2014, a few lighters and a lot of iPhones). Fittingly, Sheeran chose to finish the gig with the song he penned to close another climatic ending - the end credits of last year's epic The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, I See Fire. But while that ending wasn't such a happy one, I'm pleased to say that Ibiza Rocks' ninth birthday was without a doubt a resounding success. Here's to many more!

WORDS | Joanna Wright PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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