Entertainment & Arts

Ed Sheeran 'warms up' the Biggest Weekend crowd in Swansea

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Media captionEd Sheeran plays Shape of You

Ed Sheeran has opened up BBC Music's Biggest Weekend in Swansea, before rushing off to play his own show in Manchester tonight.

The star strode on stage shortly after midday, playing Castle On The Hill to an estimated 26,000 people.

"Thank you so much for turning up so early," he said. "A part of me thought no-one would be here."

The BBC's festival takes place in three locations on Saturday - with Perth and Belfast also hosting stages.

Noel Gallagher, Sam Smith and Underworld are headlining, with full coverage on BBC TV, radio and online.

Sheeran played his set solo - looping his guitar and voice using an effects pedal to create a one-man pop symphony.

"What my job is, is to basically warm you up a little bit," he told the audience. "Even if you don't know the words, make them up.

"You have to sing something."

The skies opened as his set ended, but the rain and thunderstorms that were forecast to descend on Singleton Park for the rest of the day failed to materialise.

Image caption Anne-Marie also plays Swansea and Manchester on Saturday

"The sun has come out and you should all rejoice," said indie singer Isaac Gracie as he basked in the sunshine at the BBC Introducing stage.

The balmy weather made a perfect setting for George Ezra's big warm hug of a set, with the crowd chanting out the words to feel-good hits like Paradise and Budapest.

"Shall we have another singalong?" the singer asked repeatedly, beaming from ear to ear.

Anne-Marie, Jess Glynne and Liam Payne also brought big pop hits to the main stage; while Years & Years star Olly Alexander indulged in a bit of PG-rated choreography, and several risque costume changes.

The venue's second stage featured up-and-coming artists including Jorja Smith, J Hus and BBC Sound of 2018 winner Sigrid.

"We decided to go for all the upbeat songs," said the Norwegian star afterwards. "It was pretty explosive."

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Media captionSound of 2018 winner Sigrid performs High Five
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Media captionGeorge Ezra performs Shotgun at The Biggest Weekend

Over in Belfast, jungle legend Goldie opened the 6 Music stage with the 90s classic Inner City Life.

He was followed by local heroes Ash, who had a special occasion to mark.

"It's the 20th anniversary of a gig that we did for the Good Friday Agreement," said frontman Tim Wheeler.

"How fantastic is is to see what Belfast has become over the last 20 years. We have a lot to be proud of."

The band finished their set by welcoming "two superstars from Derry", in the form of Damien O'Brien and Michael from punk band The Undertones, who joined them to play Teenage Kicks.

Image caption Ash played Teenage Kicks with members of The Undertones

While the BBC's events will continue late into the night, Sheeran had to flee to play the third of four headline shows at Manchester's Etihad Stadium.

His support act Anne-Marie - who also played in Swansea - told the BBC they'd had to hire private jets to make the two gigs possible.

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Media captionAnne-Marie 'took her first private jet' for Biggest Weekend

Meanwhile, Sheeran addressed the ticketing situation on his UK tour - which has seen fans who bought tickets on the secondary market having them invalidated, and being told they had to buy new ones.

"I'm not trying to stitch fans up," he told Radio 1's Newsbeat, explaining that fans will get refunds, and are being offered replacement genuine tickets at face value.

"The only people it is going to harm in the end is the touts."

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