21 year old British solo artist Ed Sheeran performed as the opening act for veteran pop-rock band Snow Patrol, but it took him barely over 30 minutes to prove he is much more than an average opener. Ranging from the tearjerking balladry of his big hit "The A Team" to the rapid fire hip hop of "You Need Me, I Don't Need You," he proved that he knows how to command a large room. Typically an audience will respond with disinterested politeness to a talented opening performer. In this case, their attention was riveted and they were happily participating in Ed Sheeran's moments in the spotlight.
Building His Own Tracks
Ed Sheeran proves that he doesn't need a band to create complex layering in concert as he uses technology to build up a live track piece by piece. There are snippets of vocals, pounding on the guitar, or a simple riff that add up to an intimate, in the studio feel despite finding yourself part of a large crowd. It is a very engaging part of the performance. I found myself eager to see exactly what Ed Sheeran was going to piece together as part of his overall mix.
It is certainly a common experience to have a concert performer request that the audience sing along. However, Ed Sheeran takes matters further in requesting that the crowd perform harmonies. The stronger request from the audience ultimately means the crowd was paying closer attention to what they were hearing. Although he did not achieve complete silence, the "shhh" request for a final verse of "Wayfaring Stranger" was effective creating a beautiful, focused moment for the young artist. The climax of Ed Sheeran's performance came with his extended version of the autobiographical "You Need Me, I Don't Need You." He seemed to throw all of his skills together in a performance filled with the self-assuredness of a much older, more mature artist.
Ed Sheeran Is a Star On the Rise
Ed Sheeran's star is clearly on the rise. At home in the UK he generated four consecutive top 10 pop hits along with the multi-platinum #1 debut album +. The US market may be tougher to crack. Ballads like "The A Team" are currently out of fashion on top 40 pop radio. However, a string of shows like in Chicago will serve to quickly build word of mouth. Snow Patrol would do well to consider themselves fortunate to have an opening act like 21 year old Ed Sheeran. He left the crowd up and eager for more.