Thousands of Ed Sheeran fans will flood Páirc Uí Chaoimh for its first concert since the pandemic started.
Sheeran last performed Leeside in 2018, playing three sold-out nights at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Lord Mayor of Cork Colm Kelleher, who will be attending tonight’s event, welcomed the “buzz” the concerts have created in the city.
Mr Kelleher said while the revenue that will be generated for the local economy is yet to be estimated, the concerts are likely to give a huge boost to the city, particularly the hospitality sector.
News of the singer’s arrival in Cork has created a palpable buzz across the city and beyond, particularly among local superfans.
On Wednesday, there was a party atmosphere in the city ahead of the concerts fuelled by a few special fans of the musician-two of whom performed live with him on the Late Late Toy Show last year.
Cork rappers Jamie Forde (aka Jamie the King) and Coben Cullen (aka Sparky) from Knockneheeny were seen busking on the street outside Brown Thomas yesterday with a performance of their Ed-inspired track set against the music of his hit 'You need me I don't need you'.
Commissioned by Red FM, the catchy lyrics were penned in the hope of inspiring the famous redhead to move to Cork.
Produced by Garry McCarthy (GMCBeats & Music Generation Cork City) the catchy track gives a nod to their 'old friend,' promising him a tour of the northside -with their mams in tow!
The pair share a personal connection with the star who surprised them on the Late Late Toy Show after joining their live performance last year.
Jamie and Coben are among members of the not-for-profit musical initiative, the Kabin Studio in Knocknaheeny.
They will be attending tomorrow night's concert with tickets gifted to them by the man himself.
11-year-old Coben described meeting Ed Sheeran as life-changing. The rapper said he was even recognised from his Late Late Toy Show appearance by strangers.
"We were on the floor when we saw him," Coben said of his Late Late Toy appearance."None of us could believe he was singing with us. His personality was way different than we could have ever imagined. He was way nicer than we ever could have expected. It was such a weird feeling to meet him. That was the best experience of my life and it was even more extraordinary that I got to meet Ed.”
Coben was a fan of Ed from an early age.
"My cousin gave me his CD and it was the first album I ever saw. I started singing along to the songs straight away."
The fifth-class pupil said he owes a lot to Ed.
"If I did get the chance to talk to him at the concert I would say "thank you" and tell him about how proud he has made me of myself. Hopefully, he would remember me."
Meanwhile, Jamie was equally excited about their big night out.
Speaking of his initial meeting with the popstar he said: "I was shocked when I got to meet him. I never thought that day would come. He's a great guy. I think people love him because he's down to earth."
Also looking forward to the event are 10-year-old twins Abigail and Jessie Roche from Donnybrook who have been counting down the days to their first concert.
They will be joined by proud parents Jerry and Catherine. Jerry spoke of the significant milestone for his two daughters.
"They are picking out their clothes and wanting to find out exactly where they'll be sitting," he said. "They talk about it every day. I just can't believe they are so grown up now. We're excited to be going to the concert with them just to see their reactions."
He spoke about how Ed Sheeran's music brings people together.
"They might have their moments but as soon as an Ed Sheeran’s song comes on they'll stop everything and start singing together."
The concert will be a special bonding experience for the family.
"I'm living in a house with three girls so it's always the women that talk to each other," he joked. "I'm just glad that we finally have something we can all talk about. I'm dreading the day they tell me they are going to a concert by themselves. It's gone from LOL dolls to concert tickets so they are already growing up very fast."
And it looks like Ed Sheeran will be seeing double tonight with eight-year-old twins Saoirse and Aoife Considine from Glanmire also looking forward to the concert.
Their aunt Jennifer Walsh, who will be joining the duo, and their mum Michelle tonight said they cried after being gifted the tickets last Christmas.
"There were tears when they got the tickets for Christmas," she said. "This will be their first concert and they just can't comprehend how Ed will actually be there in front of everyone. It's hard for them to believe that they're actually going to see him."
Filmmaker Conor Slattery from Crosshaven said he is excited about having the mother of all lads' nights out with his young sons Oscar and Louis.
"This will be the first "lads' night out we've had together," he said. "I can remember us going for a walk in 2018 when the last Ed Sheeran concert was on and how Louis loved the songs that could be heard from where we were standing. I normally don't like concerts because of the crowds and the very loud music but this one's going to be really special. Ed Sheeran seems like such a nice person who creates a great vibe wherever he goes. I've a feeling there's going to be a really nice energy at the concert."
Cousins Mollie and O'Sullivan (11) and Evie McCrory (6) from Fairhill are busy getting ready for the most exciting school night of their lives. The pair will be attending with Evie's parents-Lisa and Conor McCrory.
Speaking about her excitement Mollie said:
"I'm too excited. When I told everyone at school I was going the teacher said "oh wow!" It's really exciting."
Mr Sheeran has sold more than 150 million records across the globe, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists. Two of his albums were among the best-selling albums in UK chart history.
Meanwhile, businesses are gearing up for what is set to be a bumper few days in Cork city, with the Ed Sheeran concerts and other music and sporting events expected to bring “a huge boost”.
“It’s all happening in Cork this weekend and I think hotel bookings and restaurant bookings are very high,” Cork Business Association (CBA) President, Kevin Herlihy, of the Herlihy Centra Group commented.
“My own business is expecting to be very busy as well this weekend – we’re geared up with extra stock, staff and security – so we’re hoping that it will go very well,” he continued.
Mr Herlihy said the expected uptick in trade is particularly welcome after a difficult few years for businesses since the onset of the pandemic.
“We’re really looking forward to it.
“It’s been a really tough couple of years for businesses in the city, for shops and for restaurants, bars and hotels and all of that,” he said.
“I’m sure there’s people coming from far and wide with the events that are going on, in particular the Ed Sheeran concerts.
“It’s a great boost for the city and we welcome Ed.”