'If I added up how much I'd spend going to Ed Sheeran's gigs, I'd have a little cry'
As a superfan, Siobhan Jones-Evans has a busy time ahead of her
Ed Sheeran on the opening night of his Australian tour, at Optus Stadium in Perth, Australia, in March. Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Lying in bed at 4am one morning, Siobhan Jones-Evans was somewhat perturbed to find her phone going “crazy”. She soon realised why: Ed Sheeran, then in the middle of his momentous US tour with Taylor Swift, had just followed her on Twitter. An honour, no doubt, reserved for his most ardent of followers.
“I couldn’t even read through all the notifications I was getting [on Twitter] so it took me a while to figure out what was going on,” she recalls. “The first thing I noticed were loads of other Ed Sheeran fans congratulating me, and I was suddenly getting so many new followers.”
As a long-time Sheeran fan, the 25-year-old had struck up something of a rapport with the singer-songwriter. She has travelled the globe with other superfans to watch Sheeran perform, from New York and Dubai to Paris and London. She makes it her business to take time off from her call centre job and see every Irish date, and as many of the UK dates as she can on the tour, sticking around afterwards for post-show meet and greets.
“At first [family and friends] thought I was crazy going to so many shows,” she smiles. “They were like, ‘it’s the exact same show – why are you seeing it again and again?’ But when he became huge and they realised he was so lovely to me, they were more like, ‘this is the coolest thing ever’.”
The Co Meath woman recounts the very first time she met Sheeran: “I went to the iTunes festival in London and waited after the show. We saw him drive out of the venue, but then he stopped and got out of the car. He stayed for ages and talked to everyone. So after that I went to meet him after every show, and I got to know him and he got to know me.”
Her Twitter triumph was however short-lived. Weeks later, Sheeran unfollowed everyone and ceased activity on the platform.
“I can’t send him a DM [direct message] now,” she explains. “I have done in the past. Not to ask him to meet at a show or anything – more like sending him random things like a funny article. He’d always answer – in fact, he’d be quite honest. It wouldn’t be a whole lot, but he was always really sound.”
She first discovered Sheeran in 2010, when he was supporting rapper/producer Example on his Irish date. By her own admission, she didn’t pay too much attention to the opening act. Sheeran then returned to Ireland a year later, supporting rapper Professor Green. He’d made a small but inexorable jump towards the big time.
“By then, I was kind of mesmerised and wanted to know everything,” the superfan recalls. “He was using a loop station [which records and loops tracks in a live setting, allowing for solo performers to create more than one sound at a time] and I thought, ‘this is incredible’.
“I don’t know what it is about live music,” she adds. “You go to a concert and you forget everything else. Everyone around you is happy, and in the same moment.
“It’s hard to explain why I love Ed’s music so much. It’s so real and so raw, about his life growing up in London and everything he went through to get to where he is.”
The Sheeran fan is adamant that her Ed obsession is strictly about the music. Was she upset when he recently announced his engagement to Cherry Seaborn?
‘Over the moon’
“God no, I was over the moon for him,” she says. “His relationship with Cherry is the cutest thing ever.”
Via Twitter, Siobhan found a cluster of similarly enamoured Ed Sheeran fans across the world; many of whom have now become her best friends. Together they travel to shows, crashing at each other’s houses where possible. She and a friend run the Irish Ed Sheeran fan Twitter account, which she admits in itself is a full-time job to keep on top of.
“I’d hate to think of how much money I’ve spent going to gigs,” Siobhan says with a slight shudder. “If I added it up I’d have to have a little cry. When I hear that Ed’s tours are announced, I’ll plan my holidays around it. These trips are usually my big holiday of the year.”
Since she first saw Sheeran play live in 2010, he has of course become one of the biggest artists in the world. Far from feeling proprietary about him, his global fame is something that fills Siobhan with huge pride.
“When the shows were getting bigger and bigger I thought, ‘this is weird, but fantastic’,” she says. “We [fans] joke that he was our little secret, but he was never a secret to begin with.
“I thought the point [where I’d stop liking him] would come long before now, and that I’d get fed up going to the shows, but the thing is, it’s a completely different experience every time.
Ed Sheeran’s Irish dates
May 4th/5th/6th Pairc Uí Chaoimh, Cork (tickets for May 6th date still available, from €81-91 on ticketmaster.ie)
May 9th: Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast (sold out)
May 12th/13th: Pearse Stadium, Galway (dates sold out)
May 16th/18th/19th: Phoenix Park, Dublin (tickets for May 18th and 19th available from €81-91 on ticketmaster.ie)
Irish trad group who were thrown into public view when they co-wrote Sheeran’s single Galway Girl. They also featured on the track Nancy Mulligan, on his latest album. Since then, they’ve been pulling together new material with Foy Vance and Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid.
The singer-songwriter is a close pal of Sheeran’s, and has been championed by her friend of late. She has clocked up a number of interesting collaborations with Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Snakehips and Marshmello. She and Sheeran have been known to bust out a live version of Fairytale of New York from time to time.
Familiar to many thanks to his hit Wasn’t Expecting That, Plymouth native Lawson holds the honour of being the first artist to release an album on Sheeran’s own record label, Ginger Man Records. He has previous form on the stadium circuit, given that he joined One Direction on their farewell tour in 2015.