Getting To Know Ed Sheeran: An 'A+' Experience
Typically, when you attend a concert where you're not all that familiar with the artist it can be a disastrous experience. However, seeing Ed Sheeran for the first time at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Tuesday night (June 12) was somewhat of an out-of-body experience. His sound is a genuine blend of almost every genre that exists: the acoustic foundation wrapped in honest vocals touched with a bit of hip-hop by way of his beatboxing talents - all of this makes for a great live show.
As he kicked off his two-hour set with "Give Me Love", Ed quickly proved to every person in attendance that this would be no ordinary performance by an artist who's identified easily by his acoustic guitar and flaming red hair.
The packed house of mostly teenagers who had been lined up in the rain for hours were extremely responsive to Ed's every move - actually, it was quite unbelievable to see in person. In the first ten minutes, he'd organized the group into two sections and deemed them the gospel choir; Ed even went as far as assigning parts for the two sides and directed them as only a choir director would. The crowd of excitable teenagers and adults were brought to two vast extremes throughout the show - from screaming wildly during songs like "Drunk" and "Homeless" (a song written with the show's opener Anna Krantz) to deathly quiet at Ed's request for "Small Bump" and his covers of "Wayfaring Stranger" and Nina Simone's "Feeling Good", which was done without a mic because he loved the acoustics in the room.
It was amazing to see an artist so young command his audience to do so much and have them actually do it each time. During an Ed Sheeran show, you learn tons about him personally: his mom once made him a yo-yo when he was a small child and bought him the first season of Swedish cartoon "Pingu" in celebration of his current number one album on iTunes, his experiences at music festivals in England were interesting, to say the least, and his godparents - who were best friends from childhood but never married to each other - inspired him to write "Kiss Me", which Ed performed at their wedding this past May.
When in Brooklyn, it's only right to shout out the legendary borough's heavyweights and Sheeran definitely got that memo though his song choice was very interesting; he mashed up his tune "Grade 8" with Lil' Kim's "Lighters Up" and I can say confidently that the 2005 track had never sounded better. He even mashed it a second time with "You Need Me, I Don't Need You", which was an excellent accompaniment to the hip hop track.
If you ever decide to attend an Ed Sheeran show, please expect the following: a vocal warm-up followed by rigorous exercises so you can sing along properly, quirky anecdotes about his upbringing and those closest to him, and yes you may have to hug a stranger or two.
Of course all of these things are worthwhile when you get the amazing performance Ed puts on: he cares about each person's experience while he has their attention and takes audience interaction to a level I've personally never experienced. With songs like "U.N.I", "This", "They Say" and "The A Team", Ed's arsenal of material is dangerous but endearing for the heart.
If there was anyone who didn't know Ed Sheeran walking into the Music Hall of Williamsburg, they definitely knew and loved him by the time they walked out - myself included.
"+" is in stores today; purchase it now on iTunes! (Currently #1 album in USA today!)