Ed Sheeran paid emotional tribute to his late mate Australian music industry legend Michael Gudinski on Wednesday night (March 24) at a Melbourne memorial service. Sheeran performed the new song “Visiting Hours” during the event at a packed Rod Laver Arena, which he told the crowd of more than 7,000 he’d finished during a two-week quarantine he entered in order to appear at the event in person.
“In lockdown I was able to have a guitar for quarantine and I always find the best way to process stuff is to write songs, be it good news, bad news or whatever and here is a song I finished last week,” he said before launching into the track as images of the singer and Gudinski were projected behind him.
“I wish that heaven/ Had visiting hours/ So I just could show up/ And bring good news/ That she’s getting older/ And I wish that you’d met her/ The things that she’ll learn from me/ I got them all from you,” sang Sheeran as he strummed an acoustic guitar alone on the stage.
“Well, I wish that heaven Had visiting hours/ So I could just swing by/ And ask your advice/ What would you do in my situation?/ I haven’t a clue how I’d even raise them/ What would you do?/ ‘Cause you always knew what’s right,” he added in the second verse of the song with a wistful chorus about the times we spend with those we love that feel like they’ll never end.
“Can we just talk a while and we’ll put all the world to rights?,” he crooned on the tune’s chorus. “The little ones will grow and I’ll still drink your favorite wine/ And soon, they’re going to close, but I’ll see you another day/ So much has changed since you’ve been away.” In the second round of the chorus Sheeran tipped his hand to his fears of failure and the soothing balm his old friend and mentor provided.
“Can we just talk a while until my worries disappear?/ I’d tell you that I’m scared of turning out a failure/ He’d say, ‘Remember that the answer’s in the love that we create’/ So much has changed since you’ve been away,” he sang, his voice cracking as he got choked up and had to take a moment to gather his emotions during the tune he wrote to process his feelings about the passing of the Mushroom Group chairman, who will be honored starting with this year’s 2021 Arias with the new Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist ARIA Award.
In a moving, emotional Instagram post earlier this month honoring Gudinski — who died peacefully in his sleep at 68 on March 2 — Sheeran wrote, “It’s so hard to put into words how much Michael meant to me, and to all of us who knew him… Michael was a tornado of joy. You would know he arrived in the building just by hearing the chaotic bark of his, and you could feel the room get excited about the arrival of his presence… We were, first and foremost, friends. He was a father figure and mentor to me.”
Sheeran opened his short set with what he said was Gudinski’s favorite song of his, “Castle on the Hill,” as well as “The A Team,” in between touching stories about his earliest memories of Gudinski and the depth of their special relationship.
The state funeral also included recorded condolences from Taylor Swift, Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Sam Smith, Elton John and Billy Joel, as well as performances by Kylie Minogue, Paul Kelly, Sting and Jimmy Barnes, among others.
Watch footage from the performance below.
Ed Sheeran performs a new song he wrote while in quarantine in Australia .. coming to sing at Michael Gudinski's Memorial Service in Melbourne. Live-streamed on YouTube now. pic.twitter.com/OMzZ08LecX
— Joe O'Brien (@JoeDoesNews) March 24, 2021
"I'm really fucking nervous," says Ed Sheeran, who did two weeks quarantine to be able to perform for his promoter and mate Michael Gudisnki at the state memorial. #michaelgudinski pic.twitter.com/AFJoGkJgqN
— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) March 24, 2021