Though I am a little tired after a late night and my right ear is still ringing from the screams of the teenage girl standing beside me I have to say attending the Ed Sheeran concert at L’Olympia last night was a good decision. Despite the fact that a more age appropriate musical act (Peter Gabriel) was playing on the same evening I chose to see the 21-year-old ginger haired Brit at L’Olympia.
Ed Sheeran has become quite a massive star in the UK. His album “+” was released in the UK in June 2011 and Top 10 after Top 10 single ensued. It was only after he was huge on the other side of the pond that he began to garner some attention and radio play in North America. It is no surprise that he has also taken the charts by storm over here as well. While fans here are late to the party the Montreal component, if last night’s show is any indication, is crazy for Ed.
Despite the fact that it was a cool and rainy day teenage girls (teenage girls made up 95% of the audience) started lining up for the sold out, general admission show as early as 9 a.m. This should have been an indication to all of the fervor that has cropped up around Sheeran over the past year. By the time he took the stage (alone) at 9:20 his fans were almost coming out of their skin with anticipation. From the opening notes of his song “Give Me Love” the decibel of the noise of the crowd rose to the level of that of a jet engine. And they did not give up (unless specifically asked by Sheeran to be quiet during a couple of songs) for the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes of the concert (an impressive length for an artist who only has one album). As prevalent and lasting were the multitudes of cameras and cell phones held aloft to take photos or record portions of the show. It was like a sea of lights at times.
In spite of his young age he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve (hey, he knew his audience well enough to wear a red Roots t-shirt) and is confident performer onstage. Whether he was telling a story or dividing the crowd up into sections on order to get them to sing different things he had them eating out of his hand. A confident performer and rather than coming off as full of himself it is endearing because he has the talent to back it up. Nothing about him screams pop star with is mess of red hair, t-shirt, baggy pants, and lack of fanfare. Sheeran plays with such ease it is hard not to like him.
Though his songs are all well crafted and his CD is nice to listen to it is nothing compared to seeing him live? Banging, thumping, strumming, and plucking his tine Little Martin, Ed Sheeran is a one man band. Using just an acoustic guitar and his looping pedals he can create a wall of layered sound. He has a strong and flexible voice. Using his falsetto liberally, Sheeran, unlike many of the younger pop stars today, sang everything live and showed off his good voice.
Despite the fact that he is a freckled, red headed bloke from England who couldn’t be more white, Ed Sheeran has become famous for his unique rap style. Despite the fact that his music isn’t your stereotypical hip hop stylings he makes it work. The best example of this is his song “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” which on this evening he played as an encore and lengthened to around 10 minutes in length.
The fall North American tour is called VH1 You Oughta Know Tour and many of the shows are sold out.
There was not one but two opening acts on this evening. The first was Belgian Selah Sue. Her 30 minute set was short but she definitely won over some fans. Speaking French to the crowd for the most part she demonstrated that she too could hold the attention of an entire room with just her voice and an acoustic guitar. Second was another Brit act called Passenger. Passenger is a guy with…you guessed it…an acoustic guitar and his real name is Mike Rosenberg. He also played a short set of around 40 minutes which included his songs “Holes”, “I Hate”, “Words”, and a somber version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”. Many of his songs are brilliantly sad filled with loss and regret. Both benefitted from the enthusiastic Ed Sheeran crowd, but they both also demonstrated their own ample talents.
Ed Sheeran Setlist:
Give Me Love
Be My Husband (Nina Simone cover)
Heart’s On Fire (duet with Passenger)
You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
The Parting Glass (traditional Irish song)
The A Team