The glory of having a seat at a concert is unmatched, in my (dramatic) opinion. Don’t get me wrong—certain bands are made to see at standing room only venues, leaving you free to crush your way to the front and dance like a crazy person in a slightly less noticeable fashion. However, I didn’t count seeing Ed Sheeran as one of these occasions. In fact, I think being able to sit down between acts increased my enjoyment of the show.
Anyway, I walked in at the start of the first opening act, a singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland named Foy Vance standing on stage with an acoustic guitar. The immortal Summer Roberts from The O.C. once described Death Cab for Cutie as “one guitar and a whole lot of complaining.” This line was all I could think of during this first song. There was some serious wailing going on, along with a whole bunch of words I couldn’t quite catch. Luckily, the subsequent songs were vast improvements over the first one, and I ended up enjoying the rest of his set.
The second opening act couldn’t have been more different. Rizzle Kicks is a British rap/hip-hop duo with a refreshing stage presence. The two English boys danced on stage like they were grooving alone in their rooms rather than in front of thousands of Ed Sheeran fans. I absolutely loved their melodic rapping—it was as if two male, down-to-Earth versions of Nicki Minaj had taken over the stage. I strongly advise checking this pair out—I may or may not have gone home and bought the CD.
In between the Rizzle Kicks set and Ed Sheeran taking the stage, the orchestra was overtaken by murmurs and turning heads. Carly Rose Sonenclair from the U.S. version of The X-Factor was in attendance that night and was recognized by many.
When Ed Sheeran made his way to the center of the stage, the sound that erupted was something I had only ever heard two other times in my life: the first being a Joey McIntyre concert in the 90’s (during his solo career), the second being a One Direction concert this past summer. As an outside guest in the world of boy band mania, I was shocked to hear the bloodcurdling shrieking present at both events. To hear a similar level of noise at the mellow singer-songwriter show was even more jarring. I must say, after watching the entire show, Sheeran deserves that noise level.
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of singer-songwriter shows—I prefer the fuller sound of a rock band or the fun, up-tempo shows of various pop outfits. Ed Sheeran, using an acoustic guitar and loop pedal, takes on the presence of a full band by himself. The loop pedal allows his beat-boxing and guitar-drumming to step in as his bandmates. He engaged the audience often, requesting that the audience sing along regardless of our knowledge of the words.
Sheeran’s a very likable performer and legitimately seems to care about the audience’s enjoyment of the show. For several of the slower songs, he requested silence on the part of the audience. “I’m going to be a douchebag and insist that this one is done in silence, intimate,” Sheeran said before one such song. I thought it was a perfectly fine request; the audience was then able to actually hear him sing these songs, rather than hear thousands of his fans screaming the lyrics to a quiet ballad. It was wildly impressive that the audience respected his wishes and listened to him perform these songs in near silence.
Sheeran sang most of his recent album, +, in addition to a few covers. I loved that he brought bits and pieces of other cover songs into his own music—for example, some of “Empire State of Mind” found its way into “This City” and “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” featured the guitar riff from Eric Clapton’s “Layla” (and guest stars Rizzle Kicks!). Sheeran puts on a fun, interesting show with a lot more energy than I previously expected from a performer of such mellow songs. I’d strongly advise seeing Ed Sheeran if you have the chance regardless of the kind of music you’re into—he puts on a truly brilliant show.