More Than a Teenage Heartthrob

photo by Christian Montano

Queen Elizabeth Theatre was surrounded by young teenage girls hoping to catch the eye of the one and only, Ed Sheeran. This 21-year-old Irish/English singer and songwriter has captured the hearts of many young girls in the Lower Mainland. Hours before the show, there was already a line forming to enter the venue even though it was an assigned seating show. We’ve listened to him on the radio and we’ve seen him perform on television, most recently during the Brit Awards and the Summer Olympics, but I cannot help but wonder what to expect during his concert. All that I know is that Sheenan has quickly become a household name, managing to sell out his concert in the city Thursday night with friends Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) and Selah Sue.

The show started with Flemmish performer Selah Sue. With nothing but a guitar, she came out onto the stage with her all-black attire and gave a simple but very captivating performance. She sang all about self-acceptance and presented herself as a calm, cool, and collected female artist.

Passenger - photo by Christian Montano

Next up was Passenger. Tall, dark, and handsome – how could the girls not go wild for this guy? Folk singer/songwriter and personal friend of Ed’s, Mike Rosenberg used his witty personality and won over the hearts of each girl in the theatre. He commented on how the Vancouver audience was larger than he’s used to – “Usually I play in front of seven people… this is terrifying.” The crowd loved how personable Passenger was and gave him a standing ovation after his cover of Paul Simon’s “Sound of Silence”. Passenger had set the bar high for his friend – he had pleased the crowd more than most opening acts manage to, so it was up to Ed to give a show-stopping performance.

Ed Sheeran: the redhead with a great smile. Sheeran gave what could only be described as an electrifying performance. He walked onto the stage with a boyish grin on his face – perhaps because he knew he had walked into a room full of Canadians while wearing a bright red shirt with the word, “Eh” written on it. Well played.

“Hi. My name is Ed.” Insert screaming teenagers.

Sheeran’s goal was to have as much audience participation as possible. Early in the show he had referred us as his “gospel choir” which meant that we were to sing whatever and whenever he wanted. I’ll admit that I love a little bit of group activity, but after a two-hour performance, it became a bit too much. Much like his opening acts, Sheeran performed with his guitar, vocals, however he also had a loop machine. To explain how the loop machine works, Sheeran would record a beat or hum a tune that would continue to play as he sang his song. Imagine beat boxing into the microphone and then having that beat playing over and over again while you sang. Throughout the concert he would use this machine for most of his songs and record. If that’s not talent, I am not quite sure what is. He interacted with the audience and shared the stories behind most of his songs. It was a combination of his boy-next-door personality and genuine kindness that made it feel like he was performing for a group of friends. He brought back Passenger and Selah Sue to the stage to perform Passenger’s song, “Hearts on Fire”, a cute folk tune about love that showcased the voices of all three artists beautifully.

The show stopper of the night was undoubtedly Sheeran’s encore. His performance of “You Need Me I Don’t Need You” was electrifying and energetic. The mixture of the flashing lights and liveliness as he played his guitar took the show to a whole other level. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t understand half the words he sang but I think it had something to do with the fact that he wanted to give everything he had for his fans. Top off his set with his #1 hit, “A Team”, and you have a great end to an already fantastic show. Who would have thought that the genres of folk, rock, pop, and hip hop could blend together so nicely? Bottom line: this boy has got some serious talent.