Ed Sheeran performs live at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Sunday, June 14, 2015.
Next to Dave Grohl’s fall off a stage (then playing with a broken leg) and 5 Seconds of Summer’s pyrotechnics failure, Ed Sheeran’s sold-out show at Rexall Place was a dud when it came to spectacular concert mishaps.
Everyone’s favourite Ordinary Guy from England, dressed in black jeans and a plaid shirt, managed to make it through his 105-minute acoustic set with nary a bump or scrape — though some of his 13,500 fans might be hoarse on Monday morning.
“I’m expecting big things from you — dancing, singing, clapping,” the hip-pop star told Sunday night’s crowd, ranging from groups of girls, to families and couples. They happily complied — even the 40 per cent of the men in attendance — adding their voices to song such as Lego House, One and a touching ode to love over the years, Thinking Out Loud.
Sheeran also delivered big things — with only his soulful voice, breakneck rhymes, a few acoustic guitars and looping pedals, which allowed him to record and layer his own backing vocals, riffs and percussion in the form of tapping the front of his guitar.
“I got my first complaint — at a show in Winnipeg,” he revealed. “A couple said: ‘He was playing to a backing track.’ There is no backing track. There is no band.”
Indeed, there was only Sheeran on the huge stage at Rexall Place — and a few TV screens, featuring more images of the pop star, weird glittery blobs, and skateboarders. Take that, Kanye.
Sheeran’s virtuosity isn’t the only reason for his success. He’s a nice guy who loves his fans and loves to surprise them — as he did when he dropped in on a showcase of aspiring singers at West Edmonton Mall before his Rexall show.
Plus, many of Sheeran’s songs, particularly those from his second and latest album, X, contain reminders of other artists or tunes, making it easier for fans to fall in love with him. We crave familiarity, whether we want to admit it or not.
Not only did he name-drop Stevie Wonder in Nina, for example, Sheeran segued into the soul legend’s Superstition, then Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, while performing one of X’s bonus tunes, Take It Back, a frenetic rap number about his own struggles. (Later on, Sheeran also played Wonder’s I Was Made To Love Her.)
There was also a sameness to some of Sheeran’s songs — such as Don’t, Nina and Bloodstream, which employed either the same strumming patterns, vocal cadences, or “Mmmms” — but this familiarity only made it easier for fans to sing along.
Then, there was the intro to Sheeran’s encore, Sing, which sounded like the theme to HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, while the chorus was reminiscent of the chaos of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This, augmented by the “Oooohs” ascending and descending throughout the arena. (What sounded like the pings of the building’s alarm also provided extra oomph.)
No one can touch Sheeran when it comes to warmth, friendliness and pouring his heart into every show — well, except for his ol’ buddy Taylor Swift.
Source: Edmonton Journal