Sheeran stuns in North American Tour


Sheeran strums out a popular song at the Allstate Arena on Tuesday, September 16th.

Allstate Arena on a Tuesday night is not the choice locale for hoards of tween girls and their exhausted mothers. However, the second a walking mop of red hair appears on stage, attached to a sheepish looking 23-year-old British singer-songwriter, the crowd erupts into a scream so piercing it causes several older fans to wince in alarm.

This is pretty standard for an Ed Sheeran concert, a man who began his performance by uttering the words “I’m a mess right now,” strumming soulfully on a small acoustic guitar. He then moves through an extended medley of his combined discography. Mixing in popular hits like “Lego House” and “All of the Stars” from the film adaptation of the novel “The Fault in Our Stars” along with new tunes like “Tenerife Sea” and “One”, Sheeran puts on a show covering all topics in his lyrics. Songs like “You Need Me I Don’t Need You” focus on the battle between Sheeran and a record label employee whom he didn’t get along with. Sheeran raps quickly and angrily in songs like this one as well as in “Don’t”, a song about a complicated relationship Sheeran had with a fellow singer. During “I See Fire” and “Give Me Love” as well as others, Sheeran instructs the audience to sing a melody consisting of ‘ooohs’ while he sings the song itself. The show continues on in a similar fashion.  Throughout the concert, he trades off guitars, even once grabbing an electric guitar which he explains is a rarity.

Sheeran is a rare breed of musician, owing most of his success to another singer in her early twenties, Taylor Swift. Since touring with her last summer, Sheeran’s worldwide popularity has skyrocketed. He explains in songs quite often how he refuses to let the fame change him, and this is obvious through his sound and overall attitude.

Sheeran has no backing band or dancers. It is just him, a screen with occasional graphics, his guitar and his loop pedal, which allows him to record himself singing a harmony or strumming a riff on his guitar, holds down the loop pedal, records it and plays it back to himself, thus creating a backing band.

Ed Sheeran rarely converses with the crowd, and typically stands behind his guitar or mike stand. However, his powerful voice and passionate artistry make this show more of a production than anything else.

Sheeran uses his singularity on stage to his advantage, making a show more like a group sing-along. He recruits the audience to sing harmonies for him as back up, and call out lyrics to him. He stands on the speakers protruding from the stage, and conducts the audience in a modern orchestra of chaos and emotion.

Concerts are about unity, and Sheeran understands that. He doesn’t seek to dull the stripped down meaning of music, standing with a guitar and his voice and nothing else.  Artists like Sheeran are changing the course of pop music, by straying away from overproduced party songs and leaning more towards meaningful lyrics and relatable lessons.