A Look At The Biggest Show Of The Biggest Tour

Folkert Koopmans and Ed Sheeran
Nick Minns
– Folkert Koopmans and Ed Sheeran
On the way to the stage in Hanover, where Ed Sheeran would officially break U2’s record for the highest grossing tour of all time.

What goes through your head when you stand in front of 100,000 people, two nights in a row? Ed Sheeran did just that, at one of Germany’s most famous racetracks, the Hockenheimring. Promoter FKP Scorpio sold 191,120 tickets for the two concerts, June 22-23, grossing $16,289,639. Nowhere else did Sheeran and his team gross more, which isn’t a surprise, seeing that Hockenheimring was the biggest venue on the “Divide” tour, with a maximum capacity of 101,444.
FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans remembers every detail of both nights: “My once-in-a-lifetime-moment during this tour was the moment, when Mark [Friend], Ed’s tour manager for many years, and I were standing on the stage looking into 100,000 expectant faces who wanted to see ‘their’ Ed at Hockenheimring. It was a very emotional goose bumps atmosphere – especially when we both remembered our first Ed Sheeran concerts: Mark thinking of the times when he was driving with Ed in a borrowed car from pub to pub playing in front of a handful of people – and me reminding myself that the first Ed Sheeran show I ever did was in front of 150 visitors eight years ago.”
Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp said he – almost – pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming: “That was kinda insane. The audience was almost like kidney shaped, it wasn’t like your standard 4×6 in front of you. It was very wide and curved round to the side. When you were backstage and you looked out at it, it actually wasn’t that scary. But when you actually went out on stage and you just looked left to right it was enormous – two nights there in the middle of nowhere, and those were some of our biggest shows ever anywhere.”
Ed Sheeran
Torsten Karpf
– Ed Sheeran
Playing to his biggest crowd so far: 100,000 people at Germany’s Hockenheimring

It was at Hockenheim, where Sheeran revealed his mischieveous side: “We discovered to our loss that we had an intercom you could speak to the the entire crowd with, and Ed actually serenaded them in the afternoon signing bad cover versions of songs, and no one knew what was going on – the element of fun,” Camp recalls.
Just over a month after Hockenheim, Sheeran returned to Germany for the last time during the tour: two nights at the Hanover Fairgrounds, Aug. 2-3. FKP Scorpio sold 131,538 tickets for both concerts, grossing $12,560,432. It was the tour stop that officially made “Divide” the highest-grossing tour of all time.
Koopmans and his team played an instrumental role in the “Divide” success. In addition to the early German and Swedish arena dates in March 2017, FKP Scorpio also promoted Sheeran’s 2018 stadium dates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Poland, as well as all of his concerts on his final return to Germany in 2019, accumulating in 28 concerts in total. “It was pretty special,” Koopmans recalls, “that due to the enormous interest of all the Ed Sheeran fans in all countries, we had to play some venues, which are hardly ever used as concert halls: e.g. the Letnany airport in Prague or the Lucavsala Park in Riga. The Malmi airport in Helsinki became an open air venue for the first time ever. In those locations you have to build up the infrastructure for such big events pretty much from scratch.”
Ed Sheeran’s July 23-24 concerts at Malmi Airport in the Finnish capital of Helsinki sold 108,000 tickets in total, topping U2’s record of 106,360 tickets sold for two shows at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium in 2010. Sheeran attracted more visitors than the biggest Finnish Festival Ruisrock does, which counts 105,000 visitors over three days. 
Malmi Airport in Helsinki, Finland
Jukka Aman/Source
– Malmi Airport in Helsinki, Finland
To think that this has become a familiar sight for Ed Sheeran over these past one-and-a-half years…

FKP Scorpio benefits from its more than 30 years of experience in promoting and organizing concerts and festivals. And from its long-term relationship with Sheeran and his team. “The cooperation with Stuart, Mark, [Ed Sheeran’s agent at CAA] Jon Ollier and the whole team around Ed Sheeran is characterized by genuine trust and respect and of course a high level of professionalism,” Koopmans explained. “We all respect each other and work together as partners. FKP Scorpio and all the other tour partners have been working with Ed Sheeran for a long time and have been by his side in all stages of his career – thus we developed values and principles that are not just based on monetary interests. Stuart and his team are fair and loyal partners, to whom ‘team spirit’ is not just an empty term. This attitude inspires everyone involved to give 110% for Ed Sheeran.”

And Koopmans has high praise for Sheeran as well: “In my opinion, in addition to his qualities as musician and entertainer, whose songs go straight to the heart and move people emotionally, the person Ed Sheeran – his personality and character – have the strongest impact on his success. There is currently no other living artist, who is offering such a potential of identification for so many people. Still, despite his massive success, he remains down to earth, authentic and approachable and the kind of guy you want to hang out with and have a beer. 

His rise to success sounds like a fairy tale today, but one should not forget that he also knows the downsides of the life of a musician – and therefore can really appreciate where he stands now. This is what his fans notice and appreciate. When he stands on stage all by himself – no band, no dancers – in front of 70,000, 80,000, 90,000, 100,000 people singing his songs, telling some stories, giving everybody a really good time, you just have to pay him respect, even if you are not a real fan. There is no envy for what he has achieved – on the opposite: everybody is happy for him!”
Ed Sheeran
– Ed Sheeran
A true cover story