Ed Sheeran - Arena - 8/31/2014

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran
Jeremy Berini

When the lights went down, the screams inside Arena were ear-shattering. It wasn't quite the level of Beatlemania, but it still caught me by surprise. Arena shows are known to be big with its lights, sounds, stage setup, etc. Sheeran entered the stage with just his guitar, and it became clear that this wasn't going to be an overly-produced show.

His performances of his better-known songs were straightforward. "Lego House" was intimate and sweet, and the crowd sang along. When he began "Don't," he stretched out the introduction with an ever-growing guitar loop, until he slipped into a rhythmic flow that he couldn't break. Sheeran's rap game is very strong, and he possesses the word flow of pop singers such as Jason Mraz and Karmin. He even snuck an "I like the way you work, girl, no diggity" in the end.

When he performed "One," it was beautiful, and every girl probably felt like he was singing the song directly to them. The crowd swayed and flashed their lights on their phones. "Bloodstream" was intense, and contained a crescendo through the entire song. Sheeran performed a crazed strumming pattern during the song's climax, and the crowd erupted in screams.  

Before he started playing "Afire Love" he asked the crowd if, for this one song only, they could remain quiet because of the personal message it carried. The song described the moments leading up to his grandfathers' death, and the audience sat and listened and obeyed Sheeran's request. And when he performed "Give Me Love," he moved his guitar and mic stand to the side so he could stand up front and center with the crowd as he led them in harmonic "oohs" during its chorus.

What somewhat annoyed me is that he waited to perform two of his biggest chart-topping singles, "A-Team" and "Sing", until his encore. And, he only waited two minutes after leaving the stage to return to perform his encore. That's not the point of an encore: you gotta make us beg for you to come back and play the songs we're dying to hear. Also, don't save your chart-topping fan-favorite tunes for an encore. Give the people what they want, and leave the B-sides for the encore.

Although Sheeran appeared on stage with just his guitar and sultry voice, he did use a loop pedal to produce multiple guitar tracks, vocal harmonies, and even pound and tap on his guitar for percussive embellishments. As a one-man band, he was very impressive.

All in all, it was an intimate performance, filled with selfies and "I LOVE YOU, ED!" from the high school girls that filled the arena.

Set list: 1. I'm a Mess 2. Lego House 3. Don't 4. (unknown) 5. Take It Back 6. One 7. Bloodstream 8. Tenerife Sea 9. Runaway 10. Afire Love 11. Thinking Out Loud 12. Give Me Love 13. I See Fire

Encore 14. You Need Me, I Don't Need You" 15. A-Team 16. Sing

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