The 21-year old British singer/songwriter who seems to have come out of nowhere, first became popular in his native country with his 2011 song, “The A Team.” That quickly translated to success in the U.S. and around the world when the song became an international hit. In the short time since, Sheeran has been nominated for a Grammy, launched his own sold-out U.S. tour, and plans to head out on the road again to open for Taylor Swift on her upcoming Red Tour.
If you’ve seen him perform on TV, you can appreciate his talents as a singer and songwriter, but those television appearances don’t do him justice when it comes to his appeal as a performer. On TV, he usually comes across as a quiet, soft-spoken, somewhat shy guy with wayward reddish hair and rumpled guy-that-age-kind-of-clothes, who sings beautiful mellow songs with an equally beautiful voice.
Last Friday night, though, before a sold out, mostly female crowd at the Louisville Palace, it became very clear why he’s worth seeing perform live. After two opening acts, first a solo singer, then a rap duo from Great Britain, Ed Sheeran burst onto the stage in a blaze of energy and intensity that he maintained throughout the night. There was no live band and he didn’t need one. It was just Sheeran and his guitar and he moved up, down, and all over that stage, singing, playing the guitar, banging the guitar, and communicating directly with his audience. And they loved it, singing along with songs like “Give Me Love,” “Drunk,” and “U.N.I.”
His lyrics, like those in “U.N.I.,” seem to strike a chord with fans:
I found your hair band on my bedroom floor,
The only evidence that you've been here before
And I don't get waves of missing you anymore,
They're more like tsunami tides in my eyes
Sheeran writes for other artists, too, and has written for One Direction, and also co-wrote a song with Taylor Swift that’s featured – along with his vocals – on her Red album.
At one point, in the show at the Palace, Sheeran mentioned he’d be back in Louisville in a couple of months when he performs with Taylor Swift at the KFC Yum! Center in May. He joked a little about the name “Yum,” saying that back home, “We name arenas after the places they’re in.”
(By the way, if you were thinking about trying to get tickets to the upcoming Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran show, it’s sold out.)
You can see Sheeran perform this weekend on the Grammy Awards. In fact, he’ll be performing with Elton John, something he says he still has trouble believing himself. He told Matt Lauer on the Today Show last week, “ I was speaking to my dad, talking about it, and we used to listen to Elton John in the car on the way to school every day and being able to bring my dad to come and watch me play with Elton John is going to be pretty exciting.”
Sheeran’s nominated for Song of the Year for “The A Team.” (The Grammy Awards will air Sunday, February 10th on CBS.)
Whether he wins or loses at the Grammys, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Ed Sheeran. This is definitely going to be his year.
Photos: Courtesy of Max Sharp