Ed Sheeran concert review – Cleveland, OH – Wolstein Center – 09.04.14
When Cleveland State’s Wolstein Center announced that a certain British musician would be playing there teenage girls bombarded the website to ensure they would receive tickets. No, we’re not talking about One Direction, but he did write some of their music. We’re talking about Ed Sheeran, a young, red-headed musician who only recently broke the glass ceiling into the music industry.
Hearing Sheeran perform live, the reasons behind his fast path to success in the U.S became very clear. His songs create a perfect mixture of beautifully written lyrics and creative, diverse instrumentals that capture the essence of Sheeran’s talents. No wonder Clevelanders were so thrilled when Sheeran announced a headlining date in their city!
When Sheeran took the stage on Thursday night (09.04.14) clutching his standard acoustic guitar, the ear-piercing shrieks from fangirls were quickly silenced when Sheeran began to play the opening rift of “I’m a Mess” from his latest album, ‘X,’ released earlier this year. The stage featured nothing more than two microphones (one for him and one for his guitar) and a few wooden boxes that formed a semi-circle around him. Behind Sheeran, a few large screens projected a mix of images of him singing and quirky graphics. No touring musicians, no background singers, no nothing Just Sheeran and his guitar. But not long into the set it was clear that he needed nothing more.
Ed Sheeran – Clip from “Don’t” (courtesy of YouTube user: megan diederich)
Sheeran’s tour was centered around his new album, seeing as only five songs of his sixteen tune set were from his first full length album ‘+’ (2011). “Give Me Love” proved that Sheeran really didn’t need a full band behind him. Instead of having standard, pre-recorded backing tracks, Sheeran played each individual part and then the various live tracks were layered together to, in the end, create one elaborate multi-layered track. Additionally, for his songs “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” from ‘+’and “Take it Back” from ‘X’ showed yet another musical ability Sheeran has: rapping! As if he couldn’t do enough already, Sheeran burst into soulful, ridiculously fast rapping that was next to impossible to sing along to.
Highlights of the night include Ed adding part of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys into his song “Runaway” and the beautiful silence that swept over the crowd when Sheeran requested that no one sing along to, “Afire Love,” a heart-wrenching song that left many wiping tears from their eyes.
Sheeran chose not to close the night with his Grammy-nominated song “The A Team” that brought him into the US charts at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Though it’s arguably his most popular song, it wasn’t the mood Sheeran wanted to end the night on. Instead, he ended the night with the lead single off ‘X’ titled “Sing.” As the title suggests, crowd-involvement was highly encouraged during this song and even after Sheeran left the stage, fans continued to sing out the chorus at the top of their lungs.
To kickstart the night, Sheeran brought along London natives (and labelmates) Rudimental, whose electronic pop music was quite different than Sheeran’s sound but still got the crowd off their feet nonetheless. Almost every member of the band had their own featured track that night, and though they were all incredible talented vocalists, the members who were not being featured were often left jumping around randomly, making the stage seem a bit chaotic and jumbled. Looking past that though, the group put on a high-energy performance that got fans dancing, clapping and singing along, especially for their closing track “Feel the Love” from their 2012 debut album ‘Home.’ As a whole, though they were different than Sheeran in some ways, they did what all great openers are meant to do: got the crowd ready and excited for a night of fun and quality music.