Ed Sheeran's Wellington show draws record crowd
British pop star Ed Sheeran is set to break a crowd attendance record at Sky Stadium tonight.
The singer-songwriter will play to 48,000 people as part of his Mathematics world tour - outshining Eminem's 2019 performance by about 2000 people. Last week, Sheeran ditched the mic and used the acoustics of Wellington's Opera House to wow an intimate audience during a set of three warm-up shows.
He told media at Sky Stadium today that was a unique experience - but tonight he is pulling out all the stops.
"I just love playing live, it doesn't really matter where it is.
"Tonight will be more special than the Opera House, because it's a one-off night, the staging is insane, the production is insane.
"You play all the hits with fireworks and stuff like that, but it's nice to have a balance."
Sheeran's team said it was the biggest touring production ever to come to New Zealand.
They said the set-up took three days to build, with 24 trucks of steel, 38 trucks carrying sound, lighting and video equipment, and a touring crew of 150 people.
The singer's love affair with Aotearoa - and more specifically, the capital - was no secret, Sheeran said.
He has even got a favourite local drop - Garage Project's 'Beer'. At another pub in Wairarapa, a bar manager, who did not recognise the star, asked Sheeran for his ID because she was worried about a sting operation.
If it wasn't for the fact he and his wife, Cherry Seaborn, were settled and raising their two daughters in their small hometown back in England, he would have wanted to live in Wellington, he said.
"I love Wellington so much.
"My favourite professional memory, I think, was getting asked to do the song for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and flying over here, staying here.
"Everyone's just really relaxed and chilled, I never really get, like, bothered, or there's no weirdness here."
So did the fact that we now have a ginger prime minister sway Sheeran any further towards make the move here?
"Ah, no," he said.
"Although, I should have put on some sun cream, it's aggressive."
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was asked if he was a fan. He said he hoped to get to one of his Eden Park shows next week.
Sheeran is due to play there next Friday and Saturday - but the venue is swamped after the Auckland floods.
"I think it's been horrendous," Sheeran said.
"Heart goes out to everyone, and I'm so sorry that's happened, and I know that they're trying their best to make the show happen."
Eden Park said they looked forward to hosting Sheeran and they were working hard to ensure the stadium was ready to go for his shows next week.