On Friday night Ed Sheeran will begin his three-night residency at Wembley Stadium, something which seems unfeasible considering the fact that, according to reports, it’s just going to be just him on stage. No band, no dancers, nothing. Essentially, that “look what you could do if you pulled your finger out” photo showing him busking outside the stadium a few years ago will be edited, to show him having found his way through the gates and onto the stage, with an audience of 70, 000 each night.
Having worked with Pharrell on last year’s x, the results sounding like Justin Timberlake’s Justified, Sheeran’s career has skyrocketed, with ballad ‘Thinking Out Loud’ spending over a year in the charts. So while doubters – including Noel Gallagher, who has since changed his mind – might question him playing the venue, the 6 million who bought the album may beg to differ. Like it or not, the point of the photograph is true, Sheeran has grafted to get to these shows, with them set to be some of Wembley’s most memorable.
But will they be as memorable as these?
Live Aid (1985)
Following the success of Band Aid, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure took the next logical step, recruiting many of those featured on the million-selling single, and many more, to create a live “global jukebox”, simultaneously taking place in the JFK Stadium, Philadelphia. While far from plain sailing, the day has been dubbed one where “rock ’n’ roll changed the world”.
A year after Live Aid gave them “a shot in the arm” (according to Roger Taylor), Queen played two sold-out nights as part of The Magic Tour, which would be Freddie Mecury’s last. A live album has achieved multi-platinum sales around the world.
Michael Jackson (1988)
Jacko broke Guinness World Records when his 1988 Bad tour hit Wembley, with Charles and Di attending one of the shows. After selling out seven nights and 504, 000 tickets, he’d later total 1.1 million following five further nights during the Dangerous tour (1992) and three as part of 1997’s HIStory World Tour.
Released as the live album, Familiar To Millions. Oasis would be the last British band to play the old Wembley stadium, not that a reportedly pissed-up Liam was feeling emotional about the impending wrecking balls, greeting the crowd with: “Shithole. About time they knocked it down.”
While George Michael was the first artist to play at the new Wembley Stadium (odd choice – Perhaps his Range Rover took a detour and ended up on stage…), Muse were the first to sell out, with two shows as part of their Black Holes And Revelations Tour.
Foo Fighters (2008)
They didn’t quite make it this year as planned, but following the encore on June 7th 2008, Dave Grohl described the gig as “the greatest fucking day of my whole entire life!” Having Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones join them on stage probably didn’t hinder matters.
As part of the U2360 tour (promoting the No Line On The Horizon album), Bono and co played to 82, 000 fans for two consecutive nights, with the stage set in the centre of the stadium. The stage, a four-legged structure known as “The Claw”, had screens surrounding the top of it, while Bono swung from a microphone attached to the top.
The Killers (2013)
The Killers’ 80, 000 strong crowd (their biggest to date) were treated to a brand new song, detailing Wembley’s history and the iconic acts that had played there, but missing off Simple Minds and Spice Girls… The band left the stage to head to The Garage in Islington to play to a slightly smaller crowd of 800.
Marshall Bruce Mathers III became the first rapper to headline either of Wembley’s stadiums when bosses at Royal Parks reportedly refused to let him play Hyde Park, due to his offensive lyrics potentially offending nearby residents. He later thanked them for forcing him to put on the shows, saying, “”The easiest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it. Thanks to the Royal Parks for making it all possible.”