Just recently I had the honour of seeing Ed Sheeran live on his first ever headline tour in North America. And man was it ever good. There’s just something about his lyrics, his expressive vocals and his mastery of the guitar that leaves me craving more of his music.
From his humble beginnings as an open mic singer at local pubs, Ed’s recent success has arguably been attributed to his persistent work ethic and passion for songwriting. During his early years, Ed managed to fine-tune his craft by performing upwards of 300 gigs a year. No doubt all this experience onstage in front of a crowd only prepared him for what was to come.
In April of 2011, Ed catapulted onto the British charts with his breakout hit “The A Team”. Lauded as the year’s best selling debut single, the acoustic gem captured the attention of fans from around the world and amassed a huge cult-like following. Since the release of his album “+” in September of that year, Ed has been recognized with 2 BRIT Awards and incidentally beat out Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep” to win the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for “The A Team”. It amazes me to think that he only turned 21 in February.
But before I get to Ed’s performance, I must say that the opening acts were quite extraordinary. Handpicked by Ed himself, Belgian songstress Selah Sue and fellow Brit/longtime mate Passenger were definitely crowd pleasers to say the least. Selah Sue’s voice was edgy and undeniably unique, and Passenger’s rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was simply beautiful. However what really stood out for me was Passenger’s cheeky performance of “I Hate” which warranted a standing ovation from the Canadian crowd.
And with that, a few minutes passed before Ed emerged into the spotlight donning a fanciful piece of Canadiana and his signature 3/4 guitar in hand. Beginning with the eargasmic, 9-minute long acoustic rapture that is “Give Me Love”, Ed immediately had us hanging on his every note. Chock-full of talent, his use of a loop pedal to craft his entire backtrack on the spot was nothing short of astonishing. Playful and charming with “Drunk” and “Grade 8”, he effortlessly shifted to more tender ballads that complemented his hushed, aching vocals.
During his dazzling rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger”, Ed subtly abandoned his mic and guitar mid-song and beared it all a capella style. He then smoothed it over with “This” and requested for participation from the audience on this one – and of course my friends and I happily obliged. Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, Ed then introduced his next song with a touching story of lifelong friendship-turned-love story and coolly mellowed out the vibe with “Kiss Me”. To much of the dismay of the sold-out crowd, the show was sadly coming to a close. Ed ended the setlist with the ever-popular “Lego House” which quickly turned into an all-out sing along.
Returning for his encore as promised, Ed took to the stage and belted out his angst-driven number “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” with full-on loop pedal action. He then wooed the crowd with a traditional Irish folk song “The Parting Glass” – which coincidently can be found on his album “+” as a hidden track. And finally to wrap up the night, Ed seamlessly spilled into his mega-hit “The A Team” and reminded us all of his unmatched artistry and acoustic prowess.
Favourite Moments: Passenger’s “Holes” and “I Hate”, “Give Me Love”, “This”, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”
Setlist:Give Me Love Drunk U.N.I. Grade 8 Wayfaring Stranger (Cover) Small Bump Be My Husband (Cover) This Kiss Me Heart’s On Fire (w/ Selah Sue & Passenger) Lego House
Encore:You Need Me, I Don’t Need You The Parting Glass The A Team
Were any of you there that night? If so, sound off below on your standout moments!