When it comes to festivals, the Midlands are really hitting it out of the (Cofton) Park! Following the success of last years Wireless Festival in Birmingham and the first year of Fusion Festival which saw headliners such as the Saturday’s, Jessie J, Dizzie Rascal and Lawson (to name a few) take to the stage, Birmingham welcomed back Fusion with open arms. With one main stage, a carnival funfair and your usual festival foodie suspects, the sun came out for the majority of the weekend to welcome such headline acts as McBusted, Rudimental and Ed Sheeran (a last minute replacement for Justin Bieber) to put on a chart music filled weekend of fun for gig goers.
I was very kindly invited along to the event by 4Music on the Friday evening to catch the likes of Rixton, Tinie Tempah and the ginger god that is Ed Sheeran following a long day at work. Nice little Friday treat, right?
Now, if you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while or follow me on Twitter then you’ll know of my love for the Ed Sheeran and can imagine that I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to see him live for the third time (who wouldn’t?)
The first time I saw Ed Sheeran live was at Manchester Academy not too long after the release of +, the album that escalated him to super stardom and made him BFF’s with such celebs as Taylor Swift and Elton John. + was a chart smash and it made Ed a household name and gave a boost did the male population (and put him in the company of the likes of Prince Harry and uhm, well, Mick Hucknall). There was something so simple but amazing about Ed’s shows. For a start they were held in relatively small auditoriums, a third of the size of the massive arena tours he’s progressed to, and it was just him, his guitar, a loop pedal and a room full of people.
After what seemed like an entirety Ed released the follow up to “+”, the single charactered “X” (pronounced “multiply”) and I spent the entire summer of 2014 with it on repeat falling in love with how quickly the tracks changed from up rap to pop to verging on R’N’B to lilting ballad in the strum of a guitar.
After missing out on his 2015 arena tour earlier in the year I was delighted when Ed was announced as Justin Biebers replacement on the Friday night. Not only was Fusion the only festival he played in 2015 due to further work commitments, it was announced he would perform a full 90 minute show meaning that fans and ticket holders certainly got a lot of bang for the day ticket price of £49.99 with weekend tickets available for £120. I had my reservations however to how those intimate auditorium gigs would translate to a festival stage and whether any of the “magic” would be lost.
I shouldn’t have worried! Ed is nothing if not a show man and the final date of his 2015 UK tour infront of 1000’s in Birmingham was as incredible to watch as the first time I saw him live. The only noticeable difference was the addition of more guitars (!!) and the amazing graphics on the video screens behind him. The set was made up of some of his most loved tracks and some old classics like Fools Rush In by Elvis where he encouraged the crowds to sing along (even if they didn’t know the words).
Our VIP passes gave us access to the VIP area of the event behind the main stage which housed VIP toilets (aka not portaloos), a chill out bar area with comfy seating, Playstation consoles, pick n mix stands and food stalls which offered the perfect place to sit back and unwind in between the various acts and to enjoy the sunshine. For me the main selling point of the VIP passes was the exclusive Gold Circle access at the front of the stage to ensure an amazing view of the acts. Forget rushing to the front of the field and battling with hard core fans, the Gold Circle gives you priority access to an enclosure at the front of the crowds which means you get extra time to spend supping a cold beverage in the fabulous VIP pop up bar than standing with aching feet and needing the toilet but not daring to move incase you lose your fought for space!
4Music, will showcase the best bits of the festival (including headline acts Ed Sheeran, Rudimental and McBusted) during a 90 minute highlights show, Fusion Festival 15: The Best Bits on 4Music on Saturday 5th September, from 3pm on 4Music: Freeview channel 18, Sky 360 and Virgin 330, and will be available to view on The Box Plus app. The programme will also feature exclusive behind the scenes footage, including backstage performances and interviews with the acts from the bank holiday weekend festival.
Give me a wave if you see me swaying and singing along!
*I was kindly gifted VIP tickets to the event courtesy of 4Music but my review as ever is 100% honest