Suffolk

Ed Sheeran to be supported by hometown sixth formers for Ipswich gig

Salvador Image copyright Nick Illott
Image caption Sixth formers Salvador have been picked to support Ed Sheeran at one of his homecoming shows

An unsigned band made up of teenagers from Ed Sheeran's hometown has been chosen to support the global superstar at one of his homecoming gigs.

Sheeran, who grew up in Suffolk, asked BBC Introducing to pick a trio of local acts to open his gigs at the 45,000-capacity Chantry Park in Ipswich.

Salvador, a four-piece guitar band from Framlingham, said it was a dream to be asked.

"It's not an opportunity we can miss," said guitarist Jan Ashwell.

Ipswich singer Bessie Turner and rapper Piers James have also been selected to support Sheeran for the gigs on 23-25 August.

Jan, a 17-year-old pupil at Sheeran's former school, Thomas Mills, said the band were due to go to the Reading Festival on the same weekend.

"Watching Foo Fighters or supporting Ed Sheeran - it's a tough one," he said.

The band's Facebook page has 340 followers, compared with Sheeran's 31 million on Instagram.

Image copyright Ellie Cook
Image caption Ed Sheeran returned to Ipswich for a small gig at the Steamboat in 2014

Sheeran built up his fanbase by playing the pubs and bars around Suffolk and has kept strong links with his hometown as his fame has spread around the world.

The dates in Ipswich will bring an end to his two-year global tour in support of his Divide album.

For Bessie Turner it will be a chance to perform on the same bill as an act she watched from behind the bar while she was working at the Steamboat Tavern.

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Media captionThe moment Bessie Turner found out she was to play at Chantry Park

The pub was a regular venue for Sheeran early on and it was chosen as a secret venue for an intimate gig as he celebrated the launch of his second album in 2014.

"I used to work and live at the Steamboat and he used to gig there a lot in his teens," Turner said. "When he came back it was at a time when I knew I wanted to do music but didn't have much confidence in it.

"So it's amazing to look at myself that many years ago - and now I'm going to be playing [with him]. It really is overwhelming."

Image copyright Philip Charles
Image caption Piers James is one of the shining lights of Ipswich's vibrant hip hop scene

Rapper Piers James has been supported by BBC Introducing across the country, performing at the Latitude Festival and making the playlist of 1Xtra.

He said he was excited at the prospect of supporting Sheeran along with his band.

"We'll get it popping," he said. "I've been working so hard to get to this point - it's been a long, long journey but we're getting there. I'll kill this for everybody."

The three local artists will perform a 20-minute opening set at the sold-out gigs on 23, 24 and 25 August. The opening act for the final night of the run will be selected by local skateboard company Hoax, via a national battle of the bands competition.

The Darkness, who also hail from Suffolk, Lewis Capaldi and Passenger have been announced as the other supports.

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