Frontier Touring’s Michael Gudinski has told Music Week that Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking Australasian stadium tour was a “phenomenal” experience.
Following a stellar 2017 in which he became the biggest-selling artist in the world, Sheeran kicked off his 18-date 2018 stadium tour last month at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
“We started in Perth opening a brand new stadium, which in itself was such big news within the city,” said Gudinski.
It was a run of dates that went on to break records throughout March and April. As well as being the highest-selling tour in Australasian music history (total attendance 1,040,000), Sheeran played the biggest number of stadium shows in Australasia in one tour and he was the first act to sell more than one million tickets in the region on a run of dates.
“It’s been the most amazing experience for us,” said Gudinski. “It’s been an absolute phenomenon and it’s a record that’s not going to be beaten by anyone for my lifetime.
“Australia and New Zealand were really the first markets that Ed broke outside of England. We’ve been involved right from the start, there hasn’t been a mistake made by the agent, the management, the promoter and of course the artist himself – he’s more than talented, he’s gifted.”
Gudinski also revealed that Sheeran was already at work on new material during the tour.
“A lot of people don’t realise how prolific he is,” he told Music Week. “Even on this latest tour, Ed must have written at least half a dozen songs that I know of while we were touring. On days off he’d just set up a little studio and work.”
Even on this latest tour, Ed must have written at least half a dozen songs that I know of while we were touring
At the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sheeran broke AC/DC’s record of 213,000 people over three nights with a cumulative crowd of 243,000. Yet despite the scale of the stadium show, it is still the familar solo Sheeran performance.
“It’s just phenomenal,” said Gudinski. “Everyone thinks because it’s a one-man show it’s a small production. The production’s gigantic [but] he makes the audience feel like they’re actually in a much smaller venue – it feels much more intimate than it actually is. You’re dealing with an act playing the biggest venues possible solo. That within itself is just so remarkable – and he pulls it off.”
Gudinski said Frontier’s strategy of going straight into stadium shows in the region paid off.
“Different to the other territories, we made a conscious decision that we did no underplay tour, we went big straight out of the box into the stadium tour,” he said. “I think it's shocked people all over the world to see the numbers that we’ve done.”
Gudinski, chairman and founder of Mushroom Group, said Frontier Touring is “standing strong” despite the presence of Live Nation in Australia.
“Frontier has had the biggest summer we’ve ever had in our history – we’ve also had Midnight Oil, Sir Paul McCartney, we’ve got The Killers coming, we’ve got Harry Styles [April 21-28], we’ve done the Foo Fighters, Lorde,” he said. “Ed’s also had a lot to do with it. In this day and age, when independents are really trying to stay strong against the all-powerful Live Nation, we’ve certainly set that pace.”
The Aussie industry veteran said it has been “refreshing” to work with a young artist and his team on such a huge tour.
“He’s young, he’s so committed – he’s just full of energy,” said Gudinski. “He’s worked very hard and he’s got very good management around him. They have been very focused.
“He’s got to be on his sixth tour – he loves Australia and new Zealand. I can’t see him coming back here for a few years but he’s left such a mark on both countries.”