Sheeran is known for using loop pedals for his live performances – allowing him to record his guitar before essentially ‘looping’ it as he continues to play. But implementing the technical effect at Glastonbury left some people confused on Twitter and led them to ask if he was using a backing track. Sheeran later responded, tweeting: “Never thought I’d have to explain it, but everything I do in my live show is live, it’s a loop station, not a backing track. Please google.”
“I remember having to explain live looping 10 or 15 years ago… I thought it was understood as a craft – but clearly not!” Gary Dunne has told BBC Newsbeat. “Now I can say: ‘You know the thing Ed Sheeran does, that’s what I do!’. It’s very, very funny. I was talking to Ed about it the day after the set. We’re live looping geeks and that’s what we talk about.”
Dunne explained how he first met Sheeran when the singer was 14. “I was playing a gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and I played solo, with a loop station. At the time I was a struggling musician, so I made a lot of my living through doing concerts in fans’ houses. So I got an email from Ed’s dad John a few days after, saying: ‘My kid Ed is 14, he was at the gig and he loved the looping, will you come play his 15th birthday?'”
“So Ed and his Dad picked me up from the train station and I did a gig to Ed and his teenage buddies. Then we stayed up late looking at live looping and the basics of how to use it – and that was the beginning of our friendship. Little did I know he’d become the biggest star in the world.”
Dunne added: “I find it interesting that people can watch the gig and criticise the art and not understand the complexity and the vulnerability of what he’s doing. If he pushes a button half a second out the whole song can fall out of sync. So he’s up there on his own and he’s riding a wave of being in the moment with the music and every time he puts his foot down he’s either recording or looping or reversing or adjusting a track.”
“It’s like watching a painter live paint a picture while doing something else at the same time – to a global TV audience. The pressure is insane!”
Sheeran’s Sunday headline slot, which closed Glastonbury, also saw him perform a mash-up of ‘Superstition’ and ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, as well as donning an LGBTQ flag to finish the set.
Before the set, he had openly admitted that he felt ‘out of place’ at the festival – and relished the chance to win over new fans.
“I’m definitely the one that’s out of place on that list,” he told the BBC. “But I think that’s an exciting thing.”
“I’m actually more excited for this than I was for my Wembley Stadium shows because when you’re playing your own shows you’re not really winning anyone over because they’ve all parted with cash to buy a ticket, so you’ve already won them over,” he explained. “But I think I’m going to be playing to a lot of people who might have heard some of my songs on the radio, but they’re Glastonbury goers, they’re not fans of me.”
He added: “Knowing that there are people in the audience who possibly don’t even like my music at all and are just there to sort of see, that excites me.”