Ed Sheeran in Coventry? Puzzling mystery of the pop star's 'lost' gig.
Pete Clemons attempts to solve reason for Ed Sheeran's short visit to Coventry in 2010.
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is a household name nowadays.
He is now in his mid-twenties and has been steadily releasing his music for just over ten years, and has two albums, a dozen EPs and more than 20 singles under his belt.
I admit to being at that age where to me a latest release is, in reality, at least 20 years old. As such, downloading and all that goes with getting music ‘out there’ is a complete dark art to me.
But Ed has managed to shift in excess of 16 million songs using this medium. And there are some other staggering figures to be read about him.
Ed Sheeran, it turns out, is nothing if not a determined character and appears to have cracked this modern age problem of music distribution.
I have always been curious as to whether Coventry or its surrounding area has ever played any part, no matter how small, into the career development of artists and musicians so I set about investigating Ed. And it did not take too long to find some results.
The first connection I came across was when, aged 14, Ed Sheeran sent Leamington Spa duo Nizlopi some recordings that he had made that happened to be his own version of some of their songs.
Nizlopi must have been impressed as this contact between them resulted in him being a guitar tech for the band. Ed even opened for Nizlopi at a gig in Norwich during 2008.
Nizlopi - JCB Song
Then on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 Coventry’s own Kristy Gallacher, along with Rob Reynolds, Moray McLaren, Al Lewis and Sarah Howells, played an event called ‘The Big Secret’.
Also on the bill was Ed Sheeran who, by then, was 18.
The big event was a regular evening, in a unique venue, for singer-songwriters both signed and unsigned and Kristy played it several times.
And this particular gig was well before Ed had released an album but, instead, tending to concentrate on shorter Extended Plays. This was also during the period when he had relocated to London and was playing live at every conceivable open mic event he could find.
The Big Secret event was held in the Shepherd’s Bush area of London. And it was not the nearby Empire either. No, this event was held in a former underground Victorian toilet and it was situated under Shepherd’s Bush Green.
The toilet block had been converted into a club intended for comedy. And the venue, called Ginglik, also put on acoustic type gigs.
Coventry singer Kristy Gallacher
Apparently Ginglik was a hot and stuffy venue with low ceilings and a lack of air. And it tended to get quite smelly very quickly.
Yet, despite this and during a fairly recent interview, Ed was asked to think of an unusual London venue and he immediately mentioned Ginglik. "It was wicked," he said.
Kristy Gallacher also has positive memories: "That venue was very good to me," she told me.
Maybe her experience of Ginglik was Kristy’s inspiration for opening her latest open mic venture at Drapers Bar in the city centre. For those with long memories will remember that the site of Drapers Bar, previously known as Browns, was once occupied by a public toilet block.
But Drapers Bar is an excellent bar, serving great food, and Kristy is doing a wonderful job of showcasing local talent there twice a month on Sunday’s.
This, of course, is something she has been doing for several years now at various venues in the region. Kristy is, by the way, writing songs in preparation for her fourth album. Something I greatly look forward to.
And a couple of tweets from 2010 have, I must confess, remained complete mysteries to me: Feb 13 – ‘On my way to Coventry, gig time’ and Feb 14 – ‘Still in Coventry, happy February 14th everyone’.
Now I have searched and searched but to no avail. I have checked out all the obvious local venues like the Kasbah, the Assembly and beyond.
But I just cannot find any reference to a gig that Ed Sheeran may have been appeared in the area at either headline level or as support. This was February 2010, just before he had made his quantum leap to the next level of his career when the greater world began to hear of him via a tour with Example and a self-financed trip to Los Angeles.
Quite by coincidence however, February 2010, was the same time when Nizlopi announced they had split after seven years together.
Nizlopi, the Leamington duo who had a hit with JCB Song
Luke Concannon said that he wanted to work on a solo album and to build a new life. Maybe Ed’s visit to Coventry had something to do with that announcement. A celebratory last private gig maybe, or something similar, who knows?
Thankfully though both Concannon and double bass player John Parker, despite still having their own separate careers, have since teamed up again and have even performed the occasional gig in the area delivering the poetic yet edgy folk tunes that they became well known for and very popular for.
Whether I will be ever able to solve the reason for Ed’s short visit to Coventry I have no idea I guess. But it is great to hear Ed Sheeran still proclaim that Nizlopi were one of his biggest influences:
"Everything I know about live performance I learned from them."