Ed Sheeran is a talent worthy of the success and fame. His latest album ÷, pronounced “Divide”, found its fair share of detractors for sounding too calculated but that criticism is completely unfounded live. His banter between songs provided more insight to what they mean to him, particularly “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here”. Sheeran is an incredible singer, performer, and occasional rapper. He plays without a backing band and is able to fill and engage the entire audience at an arena as big as Staples Center.
I’d never been to a show at an arena and not been on the floor so I was worried I’d be a bit removed from the show so high up, but the stage was big enough to provide an immersive experience, even in the back.
The highlight of the show was watching him piece together the songs bit by bit. He doesn’t have a backing band, nor does he have a backing track. Everything is performed live and arranged on a loop pedal. For example, he’d sing a backing vocal for the chorus at the beginning then not use it until he needed it. All the beats were made by hitting the body of his guitar and a small keyboard was brought out for “Shape Of You”. Everything else was just made with his voice and a guitar. It was fascinating watching him use the pedal and hearing the song come together, transform, then break down. “Bloodstream” was the highlight of the show for me. By the climax of the song he had so many loops going it grew into a cacophony of noise. It was the most he broke the mold on any of his tracks that night.
He made it clear through his stage banter that he was giving it all he had, as it was the last night of a stretch of Los Angeles gigs, but you couldn’t hear it in his voice. It was strong and clear until the end. Even his rapping was on point. The expanded version of the closing song, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”, was really well done and ended the show on an upbeat note.
Ed Sheeran put on a great, diverse show. His songs transfer really well to the live stage and I gained a lot of respect for him as a performer. It takes a lot of talent to break songs down to their core elements, piece them together, and keep track of the loops.
The merch was pretty standard such as t-shirts, including several different designs with dates on the back, accessories like wristbands, and a tour book, among more. The tour book includes nice laminated pages, high quality photos of Ed, credits for the tour crew, and a map of where he played on his Multiply Tour. The prices were a bit high, but not abnormal for a concert. The tour book was $20, t-shirts were $35, the pin and wristband were $5, and there were several more small items around $10.
The opener was James Blunt, who I’d never heard of before despite him achieving a fair bit of success in the mid-2000s. He was nothing groundbreaking but was quite funny and a unique singer. There’s a few songs he played I would seek out again. He was popular with the crowd and leveled early on that he knew we paid to see Ed Sheeran, but put on the best show he could anyways.
You can purchase the album he’s touring behind, Divide, from Amazon here.