On May 29th I had the pleasure of seeing Ed Sheeran live for the second time at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY. The first time I ever saw him was on the Red Tour in 2013 as an opener for Taylor Swift. She's the reason I looked into his music in the first place. I had heard his infamous single The A Team played on the radio incessantly. I had nothing against the song or him but the hype around all of it didn't make him anymore interesting either. When Swift announced he was going to be her opener for tour I decided it was time I became familiar with his music. I would be seeing him perform after all, I might as well know some songs. I began delving into his album + and slowly started to understand. Sheeran, like Swift, is a songwriter. He writes from life experience and is no stranger to the subject of love. It didn't take long before I found myself replaying songs like Drunk and Kiss Me, two of my favorites off his first album.
I had been late to the start of the Red Tour date back in March of 2013 so I didn't see the beginning of his set but I saw more than half of it. I was even more thrilled seeing him live being as that for that particular show I had won pit tickets and was right at the front of all the action.
So a few months back when a friend texted me and asked if I wanted to go see him, I couldn't refuse the offer. I enjoyed his music and from what I remembered he was a stellar performer. When May finally rolled around I couldn't help but count down the days until I finally saw Sheeran. I'm an avid concert goer. Music is a big part of my life and hearing songs I dance around to alone in my room live with thousands of others who feel the same is one of my favorite pastimes. It had been seven months since I last heard live music, which was back in October when I saw Dan and Shay on their Where It All Began Tour. It was high time I made it to another show, I was having withdrawals.
Sheeran played a variety of songs off both albums and even included covers and a brand new song. I've provided the setlist below:
I'm a Mess
Take It Back/Superstition/Ain't No Sunshine
Thinking Out Loud
Sweet Mary Jane (new unreleased song)
The A Team
Feeling Good (cover)
I See Fire
Give Me Love
You Need Me, I Don't Need You/In Da Club/Fancy
The thing about Sheeran is not that he's a talented songwriter, or vocalist because we all know that to be true. No, the thing that pulls me toward him like a gravitational pull is his stage presence. If you've ever experienced a Sheeran concert you know what to expect: Sheeran and a guitar. He is a single act that fills a stadium, playing an acoustic guitar and with the help of a loop pedal, he creates a live version of his own music. Sheeran proves that you don't need over the top stage design and backup vocals and dancers. Although those all make a show entertaining, Sheeran doesn't need it. They would take away from the pure essence of his genuine talent. The audience doesn't need a distraction, they need to be reminded that artists like Sheeran work hard for their success. Sheeran approaches his shows like he would if he was still playing in smaller venues to crowds that aren't paying attention to him. The way in which he utilizes his guitar on stage, playing it like one's never seen, using it as drums or strumming incredibly fast yet powerfully, is something one can only find at a Sheeran show.
The most memorable part of the experience for me was the last song of his setlist: Give Me Love. Towards the end he gave each section of the crowd a sound to echo and repeat. He ran around on stage doing his thing as we sang along. It was such a powerful moment because I felt so connected to every individual in the crowd that night. Having the audience participate in the magic of his artistic form was breathtakingly beautiful. We all sang in unison even after Sheeran had walked off the stage. It was a very gospel choir moment and it was so enchanting to hear a stadium full of people who live different lives come together like that. It was a moment I will never forget.
Never forget the essence of your spark!